Chapter 94767062

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberSECOND PERIOD (Continued). L
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-09-22
Page Number18
Word Count3859
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSouth Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1881 - 1889)
Trove TitleThe Legacy of Cain
article text


By WILK1E COLT-INS, Author of 'The Woman in White,' 'The Evil Genius/. &o., &c.

Published by special arrangement with the authcr. All rsfjhta reserve!.] SECOND PERIOD (Coxtisued) : EVENTS IN THE FAMILY, RELATED BY THE GOVERNOR, Chaftke. L. — The Governor Makes ExTHAcrs.

When I next heard from Miss Jsligall the introductory part of her letter merely reminded me that Philip Danboyne was established at the hotel, and that Helena was in daily communication with him. I shall do Selina no injustice If my extract begins with her second page. ' Yon will svmnatMse. I am sure' (she

writes), ' ? with the indignation which, urged me to call on PMlip and tell him the way to the farmhouse. Think of Helena being determined to marry him whether he wants to or not ! I am afraid tMs Is bad grammar. But there are occasions when even a cultivated lady fails In her grammar and almost envies the men their privilege of swearing when they are in a rage. My state of mind is truly indescribable. Grief miDgles with aDger when I tell yon that my sweet Euneeca has disappointed me for the first time since 1 had the happiness of knowing and admiring her. What can have been the motive of her refusal to receive her penitent lover 2 Is it pride ? We are told that Satan fell through pride. Euneece Satanic I Impossible ! I feel inclined to go and ask her what has hardened her heart against a poor* young man who bitterly regrets his own folly. Do you think it was bad advice from the farmer or Ms -yife 2 In that case I shall exert my infl&ance and take her away. You would do the same, wouldn't you V 'lam ashamed to mention the poor clear minister in a postcript. The truth is, I don't very weii know what I am about. Mr. Gracedieu is quiet, sleeps better than he did, eats with a keener appetite, gives no trouble. But', alas, that glorious intellect is in a state of eclipse ! Do not suppose, because I write figura tively, that I am not sorry for him. He understands nothing ; he remembers nothing ; he has my prayers. ' You might come to us again, if you would only be so kind. It would make no difference now ; the poor man is so Badly altered. I must add, most reluctantly, that the doctor recommends your staying at home. Between ourselves, he is little better than a coward. Fancy his saying — 4 No ; we must not ran that risk yet.1 I am barely civil to him, and no more. 'In &ny other affair (excuse me for troubling you with a second postcript), my sympathy with Euneece would have penetrated her motives ; I should have felt with her feelings. But I have never been in love ; no gentleman gave me the opportunity when I was young. Now I am middle- aged neglect has done its dreary work — my heart is an extinct crater. Figurative again ! I had better put my pen away and say farewell for the present.' Miss Jillgall may now give place to Eunice. The same day's post brought me both letters. I should be unworthy indeed of the trust wMch this affectionate girl has placed In me if I failed to receive her explana tion of her conduct towards Philip Dan boyne, as a sacred secret confided to my fatherly regard. Knowing the motives by which she was really animated I firmly believe it is in Ms own be&t interests that she has disappointed him. May the day come when he will see it as clearly as I do. In those later portions of her letter which are not addressed to me confi dentially Eunice writes as follows : — ' I get news— and what heartbreaking news ! — of my father by sending a mes senger to Selina. It is more than ever lmpoBBible that I can put myself In the way of seeing Helena again. She has written to me about Philip in a tone so shockingly Insolent and cruel that I have destroyed her letter. Philip's visit to the farm, discovered I don't know how, seems to have Infuriated her. She accuses me of doing all that she might herself have done in my place, and threatens me — no ! I am afraid of the wicked whisperings of that second self of mine if I think of it. They were near to tempting me when I xead Helena's letter. But 1 thought of what you said after I had shown you my journal; and your words took my memory back to the days when I was happy with Philip. The trial and the terror passed away. ' Consolation has come to me from the best of good women. Mrs. Staveley writes as lovingly as my mother might have written If death had spared her. I have replied with all the gratitude that I really feel, but' without taking ad vantage of the services wMch she offers. Mrs. Staveley has it in her mind, as you had it in your mind, to bring Phillip back to me. Does she forget, do you forget, that Helena claims Mm ? But you both mean kindly, and I love you both for the Interest that you feel in me.' *' The farmer's wife — dear good soul ! — hardly understands me so well as her huBband does. She confesses to pitying Philip. ' He is so wretched,' she says. 'And, dear heart, how handsome, and what sice winning manners ! I don't think I should have had your courage in your place. To tell the truth I should have jumped for joy when I saw Mm at the door ; and I should have run down to let him In— and perhaps been sorry for It afterwards. If you really wish to forget him, my dear, 1 will do all I can to help you.' ' These are trifling things to mention, but I am afraid you may think that I am unhappy — and I want to prevent that. ' I have so much to be thankful for, and the children are bo fond of me. Whether X teach them as we!l aa I might have done if I had been a more learned girl may perhaps be doubtfuL They do more for their governess, I 'am afraid, than their governess does for them. When they come into my room in the morning and rouse me with their kisses the hour of waking which used to be eo hard to endure after Philip left me, is no w the happiest hour of my day.' With that reassuring view of her lite aa a governess the poor child's letter comes to an end. C:tattek LI. Mies Jillgall appears again after an in terval on the field of my extracts. My pleasant friend deserves this time a serious reception. She informs me that Mrs. Tenbruggen has begun the enquiries which I have the best reason to dread — for I alone know the end which they are de signed to reach. The arrival of this news affected me in two different ways. It was discouraging to find that circum stances had not justified my reliance on Helena's enmity as a counter-inflaence to Mts. Tenbruggen. On the other hand it was a relief to be assured that my return to London wonld serve, rather then com promise the interests which it was my chief anxiety to defend. I had foreseen that Mrs. Teubruggen would wait to set her enterprise on^foot until I web oat of

her way, and I had calculated on my ab sence as an event which would ab least pub Bii end to suspense by encouraging her to begin. I The first sentences in Miss Jillgall's ; letter explain the nature of her interest in the proceedir-ge of her friend, and are on | that account worth reading. ' Things are sadly changel for the worse' (cseiina writes) ; ' but I don't for get thai) Philip was once engaged to iLuneece, and that Mr. Gracediea's extraordinary conduct towards him puzzled us all. The mode of discovery which dear Elizabeth suggested by letter at that time appears to be the mode which she is following now. When I asked why eha said, ? Piiilip may return to Euneece ; the minister may recover — and Tvijl be all the more likely to do so if he tries massage. In that case he will pro bably repeat the conduct which surprised you ; and your natural cnriosHy will ask me again to nud out what it means. Am 1 your friend, Seiiua, or am I not?' This was to delightfully kind, and so irre eisttLJy conclusive that I kissed her In a i raji&porr, of gratitude. With what breath less interest I have watched her progress towatcts penetrating the mystery of the girls' ages ic is quite needleBS to tell yon.' Mrs. Tenbruggen's method of keeping Miss Jiilgall in ignorance of what she waa really about, and Miss Jillgall's admir able confidence in the integrity of Mrs. Tenbruggen being now set forth on the best authority an exact presentation of the state of affairs will be completed if I add a word more, relating to the positions actually occupied towards Mrs. Tenbrug* gen's enterprise by my correspondent and myself. On her side Miss Jillgall was entirely ignorant that one of the two girls was not LIr. Gracedien's daughter, but his adopted child. On my side 1 was entirely ignorant of Mrs. Tenbruggen's purpose in endeavor iug to identify the daughter of the mur deress. Speaking of myself individually, let me add that I only waited the event to protect the helpless ones — my poor loss friend and the orphan whom his mercy had received Into his heart and Ms home. Miss Jillgall goes on with her curious story as follows : — 'Always desirous of making myself useful I thought I would give my dear Elizabeth a hint which might save tims and trouble. Why not begin, I suggested, by^ asking the governor to help you? That wonderful woman never forgets any thing. She has already applied to you without success. ' In my next attempt to be useful I did violtnce to my most cherished convictions by presenting the wretch Helena to the admirable Elizabeth. That the foraier would be cold as ice in her reception of any friend of mine was nothing wonderful. Mrs. Tenbruggen passed it over with the graceful composure of a woman of the world. In the course of conversation Bhe slipped in a question, ' Might I ask, Miss Helena, if you are older than your sister?' The answer was, of course, 'I don't know.9 And here, for once, the most deceitful girl in existence spoke the truth. *' When we were alone again Elizabeth made a remark, 'If peraonal appearance could decide the question,' she said, ' the disagreeable young woman is the oldest of the two. The next thing to be done is to discover if looks are to be trusted in this case.' ' My friend's lawyer received confiden tial instructions (not shown to me, which seems rather hard) to trace the two Miss Gracedieu's registers of birth. 'His report arrived this morning. I waa only Informed that the result, in one case, had entirely defeated the enquiries. In the other cage Elizabeth had helped her agent by referring Mm to a birth advertised in the customary column of the Times newspaper. Even here there was an obstacle. The name of the place in wMch Mr, Gracedieu's daughter had been born was not added as usual. 'By comparison of dates, and by other clever means of investigation, the lawyer had found out the circuit in wMch Mr. Gr&cedieu was employed at the time of the birth. The registers at every place of worship in the town had been searched, and no entry discovered. * If we could feel sure that the birth has been regis tered,' the lawyer reported, 'and If Mrs. Tenbruggen cau afford the expense we might search for the entry we want in every church and chapel, in a succession of circles traced round the town aa a centre. Have you the necessary patience, madam, and the necessary cash?' Alas for Elizabeth, she had neither the one nor the other. Isn't it provoking ? 'I tried to be useful for the third time. Had my friend known the minister's wife ? My friend had never even seen the minister's wife. And, as if by a fatality, her portrait was no longer In existence. I could only mention that Helena was like her mother. But Elizabeth seemed to attach very little importance to my evi dence, if I may call it by so grand a name. * People have such strange Ideas about likenesses,' she said, ( and arrive at such contradictory conclusions. One can only trust one's own eyes in a matter of that kind.' *? My friend next asked me about our domestic establishment. We had only a cook and a housemaid. If they were old servants who had known the girls as children they might be made of some use. Our luck was as steadily against us as ever. They had both been engaged when Mr. Gracedieu entered on duty in his present circuit. ' After this last defeat of our hopes I aeked Elizabeth what she proposed to do next. ' She deferred her answer until I had first told her whether the visit of the doctor might be expected on that day. I could reply to this in the negative. Eliza beth thereupon made a startling request ; she begged me to introduce her to Mr. Gracedieu. 'I said 'Surely you have forgotten the sad etate of his mind V No ; she knew perfeotly well that he was imbecile. * I want to try,' she explained, 'if lean rousa him for a few minutes.' ' * By massage T I enquired. ' She burst out laughing. ' Massage, my dear, doesn't act in that way. It is an elaborate process, pursued patiently for weeks together. But my hands have more than one accomplishment at their finger ends. Oh, make your mind easy. I shall do no harm if 1 do no good. Take me, Selina, to the minister.' ' We went to Ms room. Don't blame me for giving way ; I am too fond of Elizabeth to be able to disappoint her. ' It was a sad sight when we went in. He was quite happy, playing like a child at cupand-ball. The attendant retired at my request. I Introduced Mrs. Ten bruggen. He smiled and shook hands with her. He said : * Are you a Christian or a pagan ? You are very pretty. How many times can you catch the ball in the cup V The effort to talk to her ended there. He went on with Ms game, and seemed to forget that there was anybody in the room. It made my heart ache to remember what he was — and to Bee him now.' -c Elizabeth whispered, 'Lea re me alone with him.' 'I don't know why I did such a rude thing — I hesitated. ' Elizabeth asked me if I had no con- ? fidence in her. I was ashamed of myself ; I ltft them together. ' A long half -hour passed. Feeling a little uneasy I went upstairs again and looked into the room. He waa leaning back in his chair ; his plaything was on the floor, and he was looking vacantly at the light that came in through the win dow. I found Mrs. Tenbruggen at the other end of the room, In the act of ring ing the bell. Nothing in the least out of the ordinary way Beemed to have hap pened. When the attendant had an ewered the bell we left the room together. ; Mr. Gracediea took no notice of us. I '' Well,' I said, ' how has it ended V

' Qalte calmly my noble Elizabeth an swered, ' In total failure.' '' * What did you say t' him after you cent me away V ' ' I tried in every possible way to geb hlm to tell me which of his two daughters was the oldest ' ' ' Did he refuse to answer ' ' He was only too ready to answer. First he said that Helena was the oldest — then he corrected himself and declared that Eunice was the oldest — then he said they were twins — then he went back to.Helena and Eunice. Now one was the oldeBt, and now the other. He rang the changes on those two names I can't 1*11 ? you hovr often, and seemed to think it a better ?ame than cup and- ball.' ' ' What is to be done V ' * Nothing is to be done, Selina.' ' ' What !' I cried ; ' you give it up V 'My heroic friend answered, 'I know when I am beatea, my dear — I give it up.' She looked at her watch; it_waa time to operate on the muscles of one of her patients. Away she went on her glorious mission of massage without a murmur of regret. What strength of mind ! But, oh dear, what a disap pointment for poor little me J On one thing I am determined. If I find myself getting puzzled or frightened I Bhall ia st&ntly write. to you.' With that expression of confidence in me Selina's narrative came to an end. I wish I conld have believed, as she did, that the object of her admiration had been telling her nth. A few days later Mra. Tenbruggen honored me with a vi&it at my house in the neighborhood of London, Thanks to tMs circumstance, I am able to add a post script, which will complete the revelations in Miss JilJgall's letter. The illustrious masseuse; having much to conceal from her faithful Selina, was well aware that she had only one thing to keep hidden from me, namely, the advantage which Bhe would have gained if her enquiries had met with success. ' I thought I might have got at what I wanted,' Bhe told me. ' by mesmerising our reverend friend. He is as weak as a woman ; I threw him Into hysterics and had to give it up and quiet him, or he would have alarmed the house. \ou look as if you don't believe in mesmerism.' ' My looks, Mrs. Tenbruggen, exactly express my opinion. Mesmerism is humbug *' You amusing old Tory ! Shall I throw you into a state of trance ? No ! I'll give you a shock of another kind — a shock of surprise. I know as much as you do about Mr. Gracedieu's daughters. What do you think of that V ' I think I should like to hear you tell me which is the adopted child.' ' Helena, to be sure I' Her manner was defiant, her tone was positive; Idoubtedboth. Under the surface of her assumed confidence I saw something which told me that Bhe was trying to read my thoughts in my face. Many other woman had tried to do that. They suc ceeded when I was young. When 1 had reached the wrong side of fifty my face had learned discretion, and thev failed. 'How did you arrive at your dis covery?' I aeked. 'I know of nobody who could have helped you.' ' I helped myself, sir. I reasoned it out. A wonderful thing for a woman to do, Isn't it 1 1 wonder whether you could follow the process?' My reply to this was made by a bow. I was sure of my command over my face ; but perfect control of .the voice is a rare power. Here and there a great actor or a great criminal possesses it. Mrs, Tenbruggen's vanity took me into her confidence. '* In the first place,' she said, ' Helena is plainly the wicked one of the two. I was not prejudiced by what Selina had told me of her ; I saw It, and felt ib, before I had been five minutes in her company. If lying tongues ever pro voke her, as lying tongues provoked her mother, she will follow her mother's example, Very well. Now, in the second place, though it Is very slight, there is a certain Bomethiag in her hair and her complexion which reminds me of the murderess. There is no other re semblance, I admit. In the third place, the girls1 names point to the same con clusion. Mr. Gracedieu is a Methodist. Would he call a child of his own by the name of a Roman Catholic saint 1 No, he would prefer a name In the Bible ; Eunice Is 7iis child ; and Helena was once the baby whom I carried into the prision. Do you deny that T' 'I don't deny It.' Only four words ! But they were de ceitfully spoken, and the deceit — prac- tised in Eunice's interests, it is needless to say — succeeded. Mrs. Tenbruggen's object In visiting me was attained ; I had confirmed her belief in the delusion that Helena was the adopted child. She got np to take her leave. I asked if she proposed remaining In London. No ; she was returning to her country patients that night. Her errand in the metropolis (well paid, as she took occasion to inform me) was to see a suffering lady, despaired of by the doctprs, and to decide whether massage anight be tried %s a forlorn hope. Mrs. Tenbruggen, as an act of duty to* wards her professional self, refused to have anything to do with a desperate case. As I attended her to the house door she turned to me with her mischievous smile. ' I have taken some trouble in finding the clue to the minister's mystery,' she said. ' Don't you wonder why i' ' If I did wonder,' I answered, 'would you tell me why f She laughed at the bare idea of it. ' Another lesson,' Bhe said, ' to assist a helpless man in studying the weaker sex. I have already ehown you that a woman can reason. Learn next that a woman can keep a secret. Good-bye. God bless you.' Of the events which followed Mrs. Ten bruggen's visit it is not possible for me, I am thankful to say, to speak from per* sonal experience. Ought I to conclude with an expression of repentance for the act of deception to wMch 1 have already pleaded guilty ? I don't know. Yes ! the force of circumstances does really compel me to eay it, and say it seriously — I don't know.