Chapter 97530246

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97530246
Full Date1895-01-19
Page Number4
Corrections6
Word Count1662
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2016-08-23
Newspaper TitleWestern Star and Roma Advertiser (Toowoomba, Qld. : 1875 - 1948)
Trove TitleThe Great Ruby Robbery: A Detective Story
article text

THE

GREAT RUBY ROBBERY.

A Detective Story.

(By Grant Allen.)

Persis Remanet was an American

heiress. As she justly remarked, this

was a commonplace profession for a young woman nowadays ; for almost everybody of late years had been an

American and an heiress. A poor Californian, indeed, would be a charm-

ing novelty in London society. But London society, so far, has had to go without one.

Persis Remanet was on her way hack

from the Wilcoxes' ball She was

stoping, of course, with Sir Everard

and Lady Maclure at their house at

Hampstead. I say 'of course', ad

videly ;' because if you or I go to see New York, we have to put up at our

own expense (five dollars a day, without

wine or extras) at the Windsor or the

Fifth Avenue ; but when the pretty American girl comes to London (and every American girl is ex officio pretty,

in Europe at least; I suppose they keep

their ugly ones at home for domestic consumption) she is invariably the guest

of a dowager duchess or of a Royal Academician, like Sir Everard, of the first distinction. Yankees visit Europe

in fact, to see, among other things,

our art and our old nobility ; and by dint of native persistence they get into

places that you and I could never suc

ceed in penetrating, unless we devoted all the energies of a long and blameless

life to securing an invitation.

Persis hadn't been to the Wilcoxes with Lady Maclure however. The

Maclures were too really great to know

such people as the Wilcoxes, who were something tremendous in the City, but didn't buy pictures ; and Academicians, you know, don't care to cultivate City

people—unless they are customers.

"Patrons," the Academicians more usually call them ; but I prefer the simple business word myself, as being a deal less patronizing) So Persis had accepted an invitation from Mrs. Duncan

Harrison, the wife of the well-known

member for the Hackness Division of Elmetshire, to take a seat in her car riage to and from the Wilcoxes. Mrs.

Harrison knew the habits and manners of American heiresses too well to offer to chaperon Persis ; and indeed Persis, as a free-born American citizen, was quite as well able to take care of herself the wide world over, as any three ordin ary married Englishwomen.

Now, Mrs. Harrison had a brother, an Irish baronet, Sir Justine O'Byrne,

late of the Eighth Hussars, who had been with them to the Wilcoxes, and who accompanied them home to Hamp stead on the back seat of the carriage. Sir Justin was one of those charming, ineffective, elusive Irishmen whom everybody likes and everybody dis approves of. He had been every

where and done everything—except to earn an honest livlihood. The total absence of rents during the sixties and seventies had never prevented his father, old Sir Terence O'Byrne, who sat so long for Connemara in the un reformed Parliament, from sending his son Justin in state to Eton, and after wards to a fashionable college at Oxford. "He gave me the education of a gentleman," Sir Justin was wont regretfully to observe ; " but he omit ted to give me also the income to keep

it up with."

Nevertheless, society felt O'Byrne was the sort of a man that must be kept afloat somehow ; and it kept him afloat accordingly in those mysterious ways that only society understands,

and that you and l, who are not society, could never get to the bottom of if we tried for a century. Sir Justin himself had essayed Parliament, too, where he sat for a while behind the great Parnell without for a moment forfeit

ing society's regard even in those

earlier days when it was held as a prime article of faith by the world that no gentleman could possibly call himself a Home-Ruler. 'Twas only one of O'Byrne's wild Irish tricks, society said, complacently, with that singular indul gence it always extends to its special favorites, and which is, in fact, the correlative of that unsparing cruelty it shows in turn to those, who happen to

offend against its unwritten precepts. If Sir Justin bud blown up a Czar or two in a fit of political exuberance,

society would only have regarded the escapade as " one of O'Byrne's eccen tricities." He had also held a com mission for a while in a cavalry regi ment, which he left, it was understood,

owing to a difference of opinion about a lady with the colonel ; and he was now a gentleman-at-large on London society, supposed by those who know more about everyone than on knows about oneself, to be on the lookout for a nice girl with a little money.

Sir Justin had paid Persis a great deal of attention that particular even ing; in point of fact he had paid her a great deal of attention from the very first, whenever he met her ; and on the way home from the dance he had kept his eves fixed on Persis's face to an extent that was almost embarrassing. The pretty Californian leaned back in her place in the carriage and surveyed him lanquidly. She was looking her level best that-night, in her pale pink dress, with the famous Remanet rubies in a cascade of red light setting off that snowy neck of hers. 'Twas a neck for a painter. Sir Justin let his eyes fall regretfully more than once on the glit tering rubies. He liked and admired Persis, oh quite immensely. Your society man who has been through seven or eight London seasons could

hardly be expected to go quite as far as

falling in love with any woman; his

habit is rather look about him criti cally among all the nice girls trotted out by their mammas for his lordly inspec tion, and to reflect with a faint smile that this, that, or the other one might

perhaps really suit him—if it were not for—add there comas in the inevitable

But of all human commendation. Still,

Sir Justin admitted with a sigh to him self that be liked Persis ever so much ; she was so fresh and original ! and she talked so cleverly ! As for Persis, she would have given her eyes (like every other American girl) to be made "my lady" and she had seen no man yet, with that auxiliary title in his gift,

whom she liked half so well as this, delightful wild Irishman.

At the Maclures' door the carriage stopped. Sir Justin jumped, out and

gave his hand to Persis. You know the house well, of course ; Sir Everard Maclure's : it's one of those large new artistic mansions, in red brick and old oak, on the top of 'the hill ; and it stands a little way back from the road, discreetly retired, with a big wooden porch, very convenient for leave-taking. Sir Justin ran up the steps with Persis to ring the bell for her ; he had too much of the irrepressible Irish blood in his veins to leave that pleasant task to his sister's footman. But he didn't ring it at once ; at the risk of keeping Mrs. Harrison waiting outside for nothing, he stopped and talked a minute or so with the pretty American. " You looked charming to-night, Miss Remanet," be said, as she threw back her light opera wrap for a moment in the. porch and displayed a single flash of that snowy neck with the famous rubies ; " those stones become you so."

Persis looked at him and smiled. "Yon think so ?' she said, a little tremnlons, for even your A merican heiress, after all, is a woman. " Well, I'm glad yon do. But it's good-bye to-night, Sir Justin, for I go next week

to Paris."

Even in,the gloom of the porch, just lighted by an artistic red and blue lantern in wrought iron, she could see a shade of disappointment pass quickly over his handsome face as he answered, with a little gulp, "No! you don't mean that? Oh, Miss Remanet, I'm so sorry !" Then he paused and drew back : ." And yet . . . . . after all," he continued, " perhaps ," and there he checked himself.

Persis looked up at him hastily. "Yet, after all, what?" she asked, with

evident interest.

The young man drew an almost in audible sigh. " Yet, after all—nothing," he answered, evasively.

" That might do for an English woman," Persis put in, with American frankness, "but it won't do for me. Yon must tell me what you mean by it." For she reflected sagely that the happiness of two lives might depend upon those two minutes.; and how foolish to throw away the chance of a man you really like (with a my-lady ship to boot), all for the sake of a pure

convention !

Sir Justin leaned against the wood work of that retiring porch. She was a beautiful girl. He had hot Irish blood. . . . Well, yes ; just for once—he would say the plain truth to

her.

"Miss Remanet," he began, leaning forward, and bringing his face close to hers, " Miss Remanet—Persis—shall I tell you the reason why? Because I like you so much. I almost think I love you !"

Persis felt the blood quiver in her tingling cheeks. How handsome he was—and a baronet !

" And yet you're not altogether sorry," she said reproachfully, " that I'm going to Paris !"

"No, not altogether sorry," he .an swered, sticking to it ; "and I'll tell you why, too, Miss Remanet. I like you very much, and I think you like me. For a week or two I have been saying to myself, ' I really believe I must ask her to marry me.' The temptation's been so strong I could hardly resist it."

" And why do you want to resist it ?" Persis asked, all tremulous.

Sir Justin hesitated a second; then with a perfectly natural and instinctive movement (though only a gentleman would have ventured to make it) he lifted his hand, and just touched with the tips of his fingers the ruby pendants on her necklet. " This is why," he answered simply, and with manly frankness. " Persis, you're so rich ! I never dare ask you."

" Perhaps you don't know what my answer would be," Persis murmured very low, just to preserve her own dignity.

(To be continued)