|Chapter Title||FACT AND FICTION.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Third Volume|
THE THIRD VOLUME.
BY FERGUS HUMB,
Author of "The Mystery of a H&naom Oab,"
'' The Lone Inn," "The Chinese Jar," &o.
FACT ANO FICTION.
A eilenoe ensued between them; Tait wait ing to mark the effeot of hie revelation, while Jenny tried to grasp theidea that fiction had changed unexpectedly to fact. To her the date had been more or less of a romanoe, far removed and impossible; as suob she had told it to Linton; but, now brought face to face with the faot that the murdered mau'eaou
was in the neighbourhood, she sosroely knew what to think, oertainly she was "ignorant what to say. The shook would have unstrung a more nervous woman, but Jenny Faynton was not wanting in pluck, and so hraoed berBelf up to do what was required of her. Yet it took her a little time to reoover, and seeing this Tait offered her the opportunity, by talking broadly of the matter; later on he intended to enter into details.
- "I do not wonder you are startled, Mies Paynton, he said easily; this is a coincidence such as we rarely meet with in real life. My friend was ignorant of his father's fate, but one evening papsrs were put into his hands whioh recounted the tragedy—papers similar to those whence you obtained the story. He came to toll me all. but soaroelv had he hegun his relation when I beoaine aware that I knew everything beforehand."
"Had you also seen the papers, Mr. Tait?" "No; but I had read a 'Whim of Fata.' There I found thsLarcber affair set forth in the guise of fiotion. Astonished at this I sought out Linton, who I learned was the authorhiddeu under the name of John Parver, and asked him whence be obtainod his mate rial, He mentioued your name, and so I have ootue to you."
"Oan you ask? To find out all you know of
. "For what reason?"
, "I think you oan guess my reason,' replied Tai,t quietly. "My friond Olaude' Laroher wishes to find out who killed his father."
" After five-and-tweuty years. Impossible." "So I said at first. Now I am of a different opinion. In a short space of time we have found out a great deal. With your help wo will discover more, and so in the end the matter unay be cleared up."
"You want my help?"
"Decidedly! It is solely for that reason that Laroher and 1 have 001119 horn."
It wis a pale-faced Jenny who eat consider ing a reply to the remark, ttho began to be aware tbnt she had inadvertently set a ball tolling, tho progress of whioh she was power less to stop. That ohance discovery in tho garret had resuscitated an old scandal, and had brought her into oontaot with people ol whose existence she had hitherto been ignorant. 4s a matter of faot Jenny was responsible for the revival of the Laroher affair. Her narra tion of the plot had oaused the writing of the novel, and that in its turn had freshened the memory of Mrs. Bezel, with the result that Olaude had been told the truth. Now he had oome to the source to learn more.
! "I don't see how I oan help," said Jenny, fonoingwita the inevitable; if as you say Mr. Laroher eaw the Canterbury Observer, he must know as tnuoh as I do about the . matter."
" Very true," replied Tait promptly ; "but there are many things in the novel which are not mentioned in the repott of the oase."
"Those things are fictitious. You must go to Frank for information about them."
" Was that soarfpin episode fictitious ?"
" No," replied Jenny, with some hesitation. "Kerry told me that."
• Oar man-servaDt. Ho has been with my father ever since I can remember, and is quite the autocrat of the household, lie found me with those papers one day after 1 told Frank their story, and took them away from me. You have no idea how angry he was that I
had read them."
" Yet fce told you about the scarfpin."
" Oh ! that was baoause 1 asked him who had oommitted the crime," said Jenny quickly, " At first ho would cot talk about it, but when I said that no doubt Jerningham was guilty, sinoo he had fled, Kerry denied it and asserted that the crime was committed by the man who owued the garnet soarfpin."
"Did ho say who owned it ?"
"No. Ho went away beforel could ask hi-n, and will not let me speak of the matter, in the book Frank makes Michael Dene the owner of the pin."
" Ah 1 Miohael Dene is Franois llilliaton in real life."
"How do you know that!" asked the girl quiokly, with a nervous etart.
"My dear young lady, I have read the re port of the case and the novel, it is easy to see who your fiotitious personages aro. Do you know Mr. Hilliston?"
" A little. Ho has visited my father onoe or twice, but we have not seen him now for many years. In faot I had almost forgotten his name till I saw it iu the oasn."
"Humph! In the novel Miohael Dene, the man moant for Hilliston, commits the oiiine. Was that your idea or Linton's."
" It was Frank's. Deus was tbB least likely person to be suspected, and it was necessary tokeep up the mystery to the end. But I think he ought to have made Markham ooui mit the oriine."
"Markham is Jerningham, is he not ?" said Tait thoughtfully ; " with your permission, Miss Paynton, we will use the real names, not the fiotitious. It will help us to understand the matter more clearly."
Jenny etood up and tucked the music-book under her arm. 'i'he recollection of Kerry's anger made her feel that she was unwiso to talk so freely to a stranger about the mattur. Hitherto Tait had taken his own way ; now she was resolved to take hers.
" I don't want to speak any more about it," she said resolutely. I am very sorry I told Frank the story and meddled with those papers. Let me pass, Mr. Tait, and drop the
No, don't db that,"criedTait, rising in his turn, and barring her way. "Yon must not fail ma at the eleventh hour. My friend is bent on learning the truth, and surely you will not grudge him help. Remember it is the murderer of his father whom he desires to bring to justioe."
" I can't say any more. I know no more, Mr. Tait. Do you know what I am about to
"No," said Tait, looking at her grave faoe
in some wonder.
"I am going home to tell my father and Kerry what use,I made of those papers. If • I have aobed wrongly, it is hut right that they
should know." .
•'They will know shortly without your telling, Mies Jenny."
"Ah, you intend to apeak of the matter yourself.
" Perhaps I But in this oase I allude to Hilliaton."
" Hilliston," repeated Jenny in surprise. What baa he to do with the matter!"
" A great deal, I fancy. More than you or I suspeot. He is now at Eastbourne and I am certain he will oome oyer here to see you to morrow."
"To see me! Why I"
" Because he wante you to hold your tongue !
about these matters."
" Mr. Tait,"she oried with a sudden flush, " surely you are not biased by Frank's book. You imply that Mr. Hilliston is afraid of the
'? I think he is. In fact I am sure he ie."
" Do you believe he oommitted that cow ardly crime twenty-five years ago?" asked Jenny wjth scorn.
" What ie your own opinion?" was the oounter-quoation.
" I believe Jerningham was the murderer. Yes 1 Captain L&roher went in disguise to that ball, and learned the truth from the lips of his own wife. I believe she loved Jerningham, 1 believe be fol lowed ber home on that fatal night, urging her to fly. Then Captain Larcher appeared on the soene, and in the struggle that ensued be was killed. Jering ham fled, and Mra. Lsroher died. That I am certain ie the true history of this
" You then think that Mrs. Larcher was privy to tho murder ?"
" Oh, I don't say that," said the girl, shrink ing back ; it is impossible to eay. But I bare no right to talk to you about these matters, Mr. Tait. I have told you all I kuow. Let me pass, please."
Lait bowed and stood aside hat in hand.
She flitted down the aiele, a slim girlish figure, and had arrived at the door when bis voioe arrested her.
"One moment, Miss Paynton/' be Baid, following her quickly.
" Don't tell your father of this for twenty
" Bsoause I want to prove to you that what I sav is true, llilliston will inform your father himself and ask you to be eilont."
"It is too late for that now—unfortu nately."
" Why unfortanatoly ? You should lis glad to have strengthened the hands of justioe. However, we need not speak of that now. Will you promise to withhold your confession
for the time I ask ?"
"I promise nothing, Mr. Tait. Good evening!"
"But Miss Payuton," he Baid, following her again, "you eurely will not be so rash. You can have no idea how important these matters ore to my friend. Mr. Hillistoa is certain to inform your father within the next twemy-four hours, so surely you oan give us that time to do whnt we can. I beg oF you" Jenny stopped irresolutely, and looked at Tait with a mixture of angor and doubt. The matter had now grown so intri cate that she did not know what to do, what to say. She had not known Tait long enough to be guided by his advice, or to roly on his judgment; and her impulse was to tell her father and to reoeive suggestions as to what was best to be done under the circumstances. Yet, she also mistrusted [iilliston, as his con nection with the Hilliston case seemed to her to be by no means so simple as it appeared at first eight. She was eiipioiaus of him, and if he came over to Tnurston especially to ask her to bB eilont, that would go a long way towards confirming her doubts, 4nd then, after all, no harm oould be done within the twenty-four hours, as afterwards she oould tell her father; thus at once satisfying her consoienoe and her ourioaity. She made the compromise.
"Very well, Mr. Tait," she said, gravely. "I promise to be eilent for twenty-four hours."