|Newspaper Title||Southern Argus (Port Elliot, SA : 1866 - 1954)|
CGmdudedfrom our last )
« When was that?' I asked. ' Oh, not long after breakfast.' I poured out Lin's tea, and got away upstairs as quickly as possible. But neither in Don's cabinet nor elsewhere could I find the ring, search as I would. I went downstairs in dis tress, and confided all to Lyn. We made another more diligent search, but it did nnt
avail. We came back to the dining-room at last, and stared at each other. »'0h»' said Lin, suddenly, «I saw Augusta Berners to-day, and she gave me this note for you — about a fancy bazaar, she said.' He begun diving his hand down into his pocket, and at last brought up several scrape of paper. ' Here it iB — no ; well, surely I've not lost it. It was bluish paper. Ah, what in the world ? ?' He was looking in dismay on a few lines of writing on a sheet of blue paper. I leaned over his shoulder and read ; — ' Keep away, if you have any mercy, John. By some means I will get the money for you ; but do not venture near me, or I shall do something desperate, ? E. V.' * ' WJiat does it mean ?' I cried. ' It must be Miss Vincent's letter,' he re plied, turning white — ' it must be. I must have crammed it into my pocket by mistake last night.' «- Let us take it to her,' I said, slowly, a dreadful light breaking in upon me. ' Stop, Vi ; you don't think ? ' 'Yes, I do,' I answered, divining his meaning but too well. ' Oh, I can't !' he cried, with a shocked air. ' I shall confront her,' 1 said, sternlv. and went upstairs. ' Vi, dear, don't be rash. Juat fancy— you may be wrong ; and, oh, what remorse you would feel if you acted severely, and after all she should be innocent,' I heard Lin say as I crossed the landing to the schoolroom. She was there, writing, as usual. ' Miss Vincent,' I said, so sharply and abruptly that she started nervously, ' I be lieve this is yours.' She uttered a faint, miserable cry, and crushed the paper up in her thin hands. 'I know its contents,' I said, unhesi tatingly ; ' and now please tell me what you have done with the ring.' ?' The ring J' she echoed, confusedly. ?* Yes, a ring set with pearls and garnets.' ?» Pearls and garnets' she repeated, with a dazed expression. 'I don't know what you mean.' J » We have loBt a ring ; and you promised to get money for some one, *by some means' you know.' I think a spirit of vindicitiveness must have seized me, that I waB so implacable at that time. I believe it was vexation, jealously and over-zeal in my detective instincts, as I called them, which caused me to be so hard and cruel. 'Violet, be merciful?' whispered Lin behind me. ' The stunned look went out of the poor pale face as she spoke, and for a moment it lit up with a ray of hope, and she answered with more dignity — 'I sea you suspect me of stealing your ring; but I assure you I know nothing what ever of it, save that I saw it in your hands a day or two ago, I reply solemnly, Miss *errars, I never have touched the ring though I have seen it twice.' *' Twice ?' said I, suspiciously. ' Yes ; in your hands when your aunt sur prised you; and this morning I passed behind Mr. McGilton, who was at the school room window looking at it. But I know nothing else of it.'' ' I believe you,' said Lin, 'Thank you. How did you come by this ?' she said, intimating the letter. ' I must have put it in my pocket that night you were sorting papers, while I was amusing Doris and Martie,' he said, self* reproachfully. «' I suppose so,' she said, wearily. « Have I satisfied you also, Miss Perrars ?' *'Ne,' I said, with more candour than kindness. I turned to go downstairs, and Lin paused for a while. I looked back from the landing and saw him trying to comfort the bewildered governess. Ah, Lin, I know now that it would have been better to trust as you did, even had I found her false. But I was angry then, and called out his qsnje with a ring of annovance in xny voice. He came directly. ' Coine to roe with mamma and papa.' *? Violet, I believe she 19 9s innocent 4s yon '. *r§.' 1 1
?? Indeed, I don't then,' I cried, bitterly. ' Why are women so hard upon one another?' he said, half to himself. *' Our clever thief must feel flattered at your championship,' I said. ' Violet !' ' Linford !' I echoed, mockingly. He smiled. ' You are not in earnest. Vi.' I turned my face away, piqued that Lin's opinion should differ from mine. ' Are you offended, Violet ?' 1 did not answer ; and he drew up his tall figure and walked down toward Aunt Fenni more's room. Soon all in the house, except the servants, knesir the whole affair. Miss Vincent per sisted in denying the theft j but would not explain the circumstance of the secret de mands on her purse. My father was at a loss what to do. At length he decided, and hav ing paid Miss Vincent's salary up to the end of the year, he dismissed her. After this there was a sad constraint between Lin and 1 ; for, in spite of every thing, he would persist in his conviction of her perfect innocence. Poor Aunt Pennimore had liked the governess so much that she was quite put about concerning the theft ; and, being much of an invalid, she decided to postpone her piece-bag distribution to a happier visit. Doris and Martie were consoled by a splendid gift each ; and so, in a little while, we were left alone again : Aunt Fennimore gone home, Lin and I at cross purposes, and the children depending on me for lessons till we could pro cure another governess.
Chapter IV. I wrote a long letter to dear old Don, so that he should get it immediately upon reach ing hiB destination. After this the days dragged heavily. It seemed an age, till one evening Lin had gone to the post, and I, tired of everything, had gone down the drive for a walk, as soon as he wsb out of sight. I staved ' on, till the darkness came, and caught me nearly a quarter of a-mile away from home. I was Quickening mv steDS. when Lin over
took me. *' Why, Vi ! — did you come to meet me ?' I trembled a little as the pleased, and yet subdued, tones of his voice reached me. I was yearning for a little comfort, communion, rest from the gnawings of my conscience, and reassurance of unbroken good fellowship between myself and Lin ; but I schooled my voice, and answered truthftillv, but coolly — 'No.' « Any letters, Lin ?' ' Yes ; one from Donald.' ' Oh ! and it's too dark to read it.' ' And, thanks to my abstinence from the weed, I have no means of furnishing you with a light,' he said. ' Let us hurry I' I cried, as he gave me the strange-looking letter, whose wrapper was covered with postmarks. ' I wonder ? ' ' What ?' asked Lin, quietly. '* Don't you ever wonder what may be in a letter before you open it, Lin ?' I said ; for Don's letter put me in high spirits. ' Yes ; but I don't wonder what is in yours.' ' Because you don't care about it,' I said, a little chagrined. ' Not at all -n but, Violet, because I know something of what is in it, my poor little girl.' 'Lin ! — what do you mean ?' I asked, half choked with apprehension. ' We have done a great wrong,' he said, earnestly, seizing my hands and looking com passionately into my face. How delicate he was — to take a share of the blame, when not a shadow of it belonged to him. Lin was noble, as Donald had said. I felt he was, then, with a great pang of re morse and self-loathing, as I suddenly com prehended his meaning. ' Oh, my little Vi, poor Miss Vincent is innocent !' 'How? — what?' I asked, in bewilder ment. ' I don't know, dear. I have have just got a hurried line or two from Don, and all I can make out is that she is innocent, and that your letter would explain.' ^ I rushed homeward, and into the empty dining-room, preceded by Lin, and then we read the letter. ' For mercy's sake' — ran the letter, blotted and blurred, and all but incoherent in some places, by reason of the writer's agitation ? ' seek out Miss Vincent, and if she is alive try and make restitution. She is innocent ; it is my blunder that has done the mischief. You will find Aunt Emily's ring in its own little box, in Aunt Penui:nore's piece-bag. Aunt Emily came with the telegram that day, and I shoved it inside the mouth of the bag, intending to tell Violet, and I forgot all about it till I was out at sea. Do find her ; for, oh, Violet, I love her, and have asked her to be my wife, but she refused me.'1 'Poor, poor Don,' I said, weeping un restrainedly, as I laid the letter down ; ' and I have been heartlessly cruel to the person you love best.' 'Dear Vio,' said Lin, gently, 'may I 4 love* this pain away.' I reached out my hand in a blind, groping sort of a way, and in a moment I was folded in his arms — my bewildered head on his bosom. ' Vio, is it all clear between us now ?' he whispered, 'Yes, oh, yes — forgive. me, Lin.' ** My own little girl, shall I tell you a secret ? — Miss Vincent in ou her way here to learn the good news from your own lips. I told her to come, but I left it for you to tell her what for.' *' Oh, L«n, you darling 1' I cried, jumping up. Unselfish Lin ! He had kept himself in formed of the governess's whereabouts, and through the medium of her only fried — a poor widow who let humble lodgings— he and Aunt Fennimore, whoRe interest he had gained, cqntrived to save her from want. ' Oh, Violet, you don't know how you 'have pained me. Dear Vio ? '.-. And here he whispered something which I shall not write ; but papa said on the subject— ?'With all my heart \r but wait awhile, L?n ;' and mamma said, ** Oh, not yet, my boy-— Violet is only seventeen,'
'It will not be hard to wait, will it, darling ?'« he said to roe, as we stood together on the terrace, some days after. The ring was found, and Ethel Vincent was installed in her old quarters. She was very forgiving, especially to me. But I never can thank Lin and Aunt Fennimore enough for watching over one whom I had discarded,' and thus saving me from, perhaps, infinite re morse. I never rested my eye on that little ring, which was now ou my mother's finger, but I thought of my too hasty and unmerciful judgment, and I never forgot'my lesson. 'So that scapegrace will trouble voii no more,' said Aunt Fennimore, suddenly, as we sat at breakfast one morning, about three months after Miss Vincent's reinstallation. ' Me ?' said Edith, with a start ; ' whom do you mean ?' ' Why, John, to be sure.' Miss Vincent stood upright, and looked appealingly at Aunt. 'He died yesterday, just before I left Hanson. I saw him ; he asked for you, that you might forgive him ; but he died almost directly. Was he any reiatioa of yours ?' 'He was my own brother,' she said, brokenly. 'He died truly penitent, I believe,'* said my aunt, as Ethel left the room to prepare for a journey to Hanson; 'but he has been a rake of the lowest class, and must have been a millstone round poor Ethel's neck.' Poor Ethel ! But, after the lapse of two years, I say, ' Happy Ethel !' To-morrow is to be my wedding-dav ; and as I write this I wait the arrival of some guests — dear old Donald, and hiB wife Ethel. J. A. C.