Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page

LORD WALDEMAR'S HEIR.

News
Cite
Share

( Copyright.) LORD WALDEMAR'S HEIR. By MRS. HARRIET LEWIS, Author of "The Hampton Mystery," "The Bailiff's Scheme," "The Lady of Kildare," "The Old Life's Shadows," "A Daring Game," &c., &c. CHAPTER XLIX. A MCTCATi NLIOIITENMENT. Dr. Parfitt, the keeper of The Retreat in Huntingdonshire, where the unfortunate Carmine Moer had so long been confined, followed his telegram to London with all speed, taking the earliest train, and quartered himself at the Queen's Hotel, opooaite the Post Office, in St. Martin's-le-Grand. This was upon Thursday, the day on which Darrel Moer had called upon Sir Hugh Tre- garon ac Lady Thaxter's residence, and some few hours subsequent to that memorable inter- view. The doctor waited all that evening for the appearance of Bing. but the tall, lank figure of Moer's valet did not rejoice his vision. The next morning he went forth anrl rib* to find Bing, bl,t had been caretnl to interpose his valet between 2S"P «,?thF wu.J ^'ST P*LeZ umn\n(H that his Sd come Z? af'C°,Unt of "Carmine Roff the distinf u w e*-8 °f the nephew of know th' Mir Waldemar. He did not j. d [oei 'Ki special interest in his P >en although tlie old scandal connecting JW-oer B name with that of Carmine Roff had ecome known to him. He did not know that 13ing wris Moer s valet, or that there was any *~q«ainfance or connection whatever between "<!er and Bing. To make the situation of affairs perfectly Plain to the reader, we must explain, at the f'*k of some repetition, that it was Bing who "ad sent for Dr. Pariitt to come up to town some ten years before, upon the occasion of Carmine Moer's sudden outbreak of insanity, and that Emg had thyn introduced himself toi *he mad doctor as an agent of "Miss Roff's relatives, empowered by them to provide a tome for her. All the money received by the doctor upon "Miss H.off's" account had come through Bing, whose address had been always and simply at the General Post Office. Searching for Bing in London was a hopeless task. The doctor relinquished it about noon, and spent the remainder of the day in making fruitless inquiries of the police, at unions, almshouses and hospitals, and wherever he thought it possible the demented woman might have found a temporary home. By night he began to grow discouraged, but did not wish to return to Huntingdonshire without having gained something by his journey to town. He had had agents employed, ever since his patient's esc.ipe, in searching for hei throughout, the country for a distance of many miles from his Retreat, but he had not thought that she would direct her wandering, aimless steps to London, and had not even telegnphed the London police to look out for her. Now, however, in consequence of Ping's telegram, resolved to remain in town until he .should find her, believing that she had possibly found a hiding-place somewhere in the metropolis. It was necessary to make active efforts to discover the lui.-sing woman, and accordingly on I Flïdav evening lie procured the insertion of an. ^Vt-rlisen ent in several of the papers to be tsj-upd upon the following uh ruing. upon the morning of Saturday, therefore— the morning uoon which occurred, in the church St. Jude "in I'<<ravia, the marriage of Darrel liicer tu Dihia i'ovrt—there appeared in Prions papers Dr. i'ui.fit t' s advertisement. OWing to its position, and possibly, also, to their preoccupation with the expected mar- ^iage, neither Moer nor Bing noticed it. Others, however, were more observing. About one o'clock of that day, while the bridal party, consisting of Darrel Moer and hIs bride, "Grimrod and Mrs. Watchley, were *t the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, Dr. Parfitt, by virtue of a gratuity to a waiter, took pos- session of a small table in the ladies' or family coffee-room (If the hotel, and ordered a 8tont luncheon. L'e had not received any •oawer to his advertisements, and was a little Perplexed and at a loss what to do next, and his desire for retirement had led bun to avoid the busy coffee-rooui below stairs, where busi- ness nien were thronging. The ladies' room deserted, and ho selected a table in a urtl,er corner, near one of the windows com- landing a view of the Post Office. _-rtere he aie his chop and drank his ale with cisurely t.houghtfidness. The waiter removed 'he dishes, and Dr. Parfitt took up one of the Blowing papers and perused his own advertise- ment with all the pride of an amateur author. It was extremely simple and to the point, reading as follows Some three weeks since escaped from The Retreat of Dr. Parfiit. near Odord, Hunting- donshire, a female lunatic named Carmine Roff. Is about thirty years of age, tall, fair, with blue eyes and light Lair; had on when last seen a black alpaca powr. and red shawl; no bonnet; shoes worn, is sometimes violent, in which condition she is* dangerous. A liberal reward will be paid for imy information that Will lead to her recovery.—Call on or address Dr. Parhtt, Queen's Hotel, St. Martin's-le- Grand. The doctor rubbed his spectacles and read the advertisement again and yet aeain. The light of his own name in print seemed to have a fascination for him. He was a small man physically, with a very targe head and a prominent, bulging forehead. He was honest, somewhat unworldly, and greatly devoted to his profession. His hobbj Was the treatn cnt of the insane. lie had no dungeons or dark cells in his pleasant Retreat, I}o tortures of any kind for the mentally c afflicted. There were padded rooms for the potent, and a large and sunny garden enclosed «v a high wall. where most of his patients strolled during warm days, or cultivated iiowers, £ r read, or frolicked, under £ he supervision of bumane keepers. The place was what it Professed to be, a II. me for the Insane, and the little doctor with his big heart was a father to these helpless ones. ioor Carmine Moer had not fled from perse- cutions or ill-treatment, but only in obedience to the restlessness peculiar to her mental con- dition, or in pursuance of some new vagary. It's time I had some answer to thisadver-j tiseir.ent," thought the doctor. "HeaYenj knows into whose hands the poor creature may nave fallen." He sighed and folded the paper. Before he Could rise, if su.-h was his intention, a waiter appeared, bearing a card. He was closely followed by a tall and stately lady, dressed F hlack and closely veiled, who was • lookTg m"id.ed a 1 Ule distance b-v a foreign- Dr. Parfitt read a.'op'd the name on the card, an sudden awe Wo,,der; The Countess of Rothsmere!" ""P .'OHcd, coming nearer, and '<i)>rnisfmg the waiter by a gesture the threw back her thick veil, revealing the ijpure sici lovely face, the radiant blue P™ liothsnitw. The woman behind her her Hungarian zi )it. b "Have I tiie pleasure of addressing Dr. Paif tt, ? asked lier ladyship, in an exquisitely 'Adulated voice. "Y es, iuadaiiie-ii,N, lady," rtsponded the doctor, nrising, full of perturbation at the rank ^nd beauty and gracious address of his high- wed visitor. '"Dr. Parfitt, of I'arfitt's Retreat, Huntingdonshire, my lady. Is-is here anything 1 can do for you, my lady ? He asked the question awkwardly enough. In ruth, he hardly knew what to say to her lady- M5. but felt it incumbent upon hiin to say *0fnething. ^Ladv Rothsmere glanced round the room. waiter was gone, and there was no one in rj0In excepting the doctor, her Hungarian pendant and herself. Her ladyship drew a disT'0^ ] paper from her pocket, folded tol doctor's advertisement, which wa« tt ed, t»nd laid it before him. ftof. am come-to see you in relation to this inl'ce' doctor," she said, gracefully sinking hair. and motioning him to resume his upon the divan he had previously occupied. iooked astonislirnent. tiQn an y°ur ^dyship eive me any informs concerning ..Mi., bon concerning .MiSd present where- (<ui8 r he asked. cannot," replied the C,°"nte«- I have come to solicit from joy, D*, iairfitt, rather-than to Impart it. 1 wish to hear from you manri particulars concerning this unhappy lady fer" whom you are searching. Believe me, I have the right to know her history, &xl I beg yon not to withhold from me any information you can give." "You are Miss Rofif's sister, perhaps, my lady?' suggested the doctor. -& Ah, yes I see. Miss Roff was of German descent, and of excellent family. She is your sister, of wnoni you have lost all trace for many years. 1 on saw my advertisement this morning and! hastened to come to me. Your fair complexion and blue eyes are like what Miss Roff's might possi lj have been in health and happiness, but her complexion grew sallow and her eyes wild and haggard. I never saw her at her best- when sane, you know, my lady. She used often 0 speak in her ravings of her sister in Germany, noble and fashionable lady, whom she had Tot seen for many years. Are you that sister? [ see you are. I shall ba happy, my lady, to xnswer any questions you may be pleased to isk me." "Thanks," said the Countess, in an unsteady voice. "Was she—was Carmine—alive, to your knowledge, so lately as three weeks ago, doctor ? It is between three and four weeks, my lady, since she escaped from the Retreat." Who placed her in your asylum ? "A gentlemanly sort of man, an agent of the lady's relatives, named Watson Bing." "Who paid for her keeping ? "The same man, my lady. All moneys came through the hands of Bing, and all receipts were made out to Bing." The Countess turned and addressed a few words in the Hungarian tongue to her atten- dant, who was seated at a respectful distance, but within earshot. Then her ladyship resumed ,ier questioning of the lirtle doctor. j "By what name was this unfortunate lady known to you and entered upon your books, Dr. Parfiit ? she inquired. Under the name by which she had acquired fame as an actress, my Ivly—under the name of; Carmine Roff." "That was her name once, said the Hungarian Countess—"her own name—but it ceased to be her name upon her marriage." "Biit she was not marked, my lady, cried Dr. Parfitt. "It is truo that she was always raving about Darrel,' calling him her husband, but she rarely, if ever,saoke the full name. which was that of a f able young gentle- man allied to the nobility. I think, from your fo/eign air, my lady, that you have not been in England long, and—pardon me—you may not be aware that there was some scandal-that. Mr. Darrel Moer was Miss Roff's lover- lie stopped abruptly in confusion. I have not heard since I came to England the name of Carmine Roff," said the Hungarian Countess. "I have sought for her secretly, but! without, success. She was a wife, Dr. P.11-litt, the wife of this Mr. Darrel Moer. I have not been idle since I came to England. I have employed skilful detectives. Read these." She took out her silver portemonnaie, and dis- played two documents. One was the copy ofl the registry of a marriage at the church of St. j llclen, Brighton, between Darrel Moer and; Carmine Roff, spinster. The other paper was a! copy of a similar registry at Somerset House, London. "The proofs, you lee, doctor, are incon-1 trovertible," said the Countess, with a stern inflection of voice. "This injured, demented, lady i:3 Mrs. Darrel Moer." The doctor perused the documents, handing! them back to their owner. "The fact is proved," he assented. "The poor lady is Mrs. Darrel Moer. She has been! the victim of some terrible rascality. The man! ig told me she had not been married, and. common report, my lady -11 A swif: Hush dyed her ladyship's cheeks. "The man Bing is Darrel Moer's valet." she interposed. "Every penny you have received for your care of Mrs. Moer has come to you from her husband, who has paid you through Bing." "But—but, my lady, why should Mr. Moer conceal the marriage ? conceal the marriage ? "For purposes of his own," replied the Countess, with a pallor as deep as the flush had been—"that he might marry again, perhaps.! His alliance with Carmine Roff was likely to. offend his uncle, then Squire Floyd, now Baron. Waldemar, and he concealed the marriage. Is Mrs. Moer really insane ? "A raving madwoman, my lady; full of notions and quirks and oddities, violent at times, and again gentle as a child, but never sane. She will never regain her mind in this world. She will not know you, my lady, when you see her, if we succeed in finding her. She has been in my care 80 many years that I shall dread to lose her. One misses a patient who has been a heavy and constant care for so long. I—1 hope, my lady, that yon will not take her away from my Retreat. I shall be glad to expia n to you my system of treatment of my unfortunate boarders, and to shew you through I my honsie and prove to you that I do not keep! one of those bugbear asylums that justly arouse condemnation, but that my house is in truth a! I 'iome to these demented Deings. "1 do not doubt it, Dr. Parfitt," said her ladyship, restoring the two documents to her p-'nicmonnaia. "I have no intention of re- moving Mrs. Moer from your care. I will come down to see her—I will help you to find her. Where can she be ? Which way can she have fled on her escape ? "We heard of her in the fen districts to the north and east of us, directly after she fled," said the doctor, "and I have men searching the fens for her even now. On Thursday—the day before yesterday—I received a telegram from Bing, asking if Miss Roff were safe at The Rotreat, and saying he had reason to think her in London. I answered over the wires, and came to town the snme day, but have seen nothing of Bing, although I expected to find him at this hotel waiting for me. I think Mrs. Moer must be in London, the coincidence between her disappearance and Bing's suspicion of having seen her here being so striking." "He telegraphed you on Thursday?" "\e», my lady." "Has Mr. Moer ever been to The Retreat to iee his wife, in the character of a casual visitor? askod her ladyship thoughtfully. I am sure not, my lady. "At what time on Thursday did you receive the telegram ? "About two o'clock, my lady." "Ahl" said the Hungarian Countess, I think I comprehend. Mr. Darrel Moer saw me on Thursday morning only for a moment, but I am convinced that he believed me to be j poor Carmine. Henco Bing's telegram to you on the same day, and so soon after Moer had seen mo. Dr. Parfitt, you are upon the wrong track. Carmine is not in London. Search fori I her everywhere. She must be found. I will spare no expense in the pursuit. Organise .1 search immediately without delay. Let the fens be examined inch by inch, if need be. Let messengers go from house to house. Scatterl handbills over the country post placards warn the police everywhere to look for her and to intercept her. I repeat, she must be found." The last words were spoken in a deep agita- tion, and Dr. Parfitt noticcd the keen longing and anxiety in the lady's luminous blue eyes. A waittr came into the coffee-room, muttering an apology for the unavoidable interruption, and 14aiidod Dr. Parfitt a telegram. The waiter Imrned out into the corridor, and the doctor tf.re open the envelope and read the message. With a shocked exclamation upon hisliDs. he looked pityingly at his noble visitor. Something in the expression of his face struck She leant forward, white and breathless, exclaimir.g You have news of her ? Read it to me. Qmck Read it! » nrw»^"P°Ee yourself, my lady. It is bad Only toll me that she lives," breathed the ungarian Countess, in a pleading voice, her f^re, ,80 ,w "hat the little doctor was frightened. Whatever the news, tell it me. I cannot Mr* the suspense," "Tiie-tlie news is the very worst," stam- mered Dr. Parfitt, not knowing how to break it to her, and so telling the worst at once. "I'll read vou the message, my lady. Here it is: "MTo Dr. Parfitt,. at Queen's Hotel, St. Martin's -ie-Grand.—Miss Rofif found last night, in the fen district. She had been dead some Mours. Killed by a fail in a farm stable. Body has nrrived at Retreat in charge of Porson. Send directions, or come.—H. BnowNSON. I That'* all, my lady. Your poor sister is dead." "Dead IW i» "Yes, my lady,- and within'- thirty-sis or forty-eight hours at, most, poor creature." A strange look shot into the grand eyes of h" Hungarian Countess, a look which haunted Mtd puzzled Dr. ratttt lM)g afterwards., I rose and walked to the window. Her Hungarian attendant followed her, and the two talked together in their foreign tongue for somi minutes. "Poor lady I thought the little doctor. WI1 comes hard upon her, even hough her sister was insane. r?^*ural affection—the affection begotten by early associations—survives! years of separation, and remains unstiflgd by apparent estrangements, in natures like this of Lady Rothsmere. He meditated and moralised while h> waited. |When Lady Rothsmere returned to him he saw the traces of a greit and terrible agitation on her countenance, but her voice was quite calm 88 she said "You will go home by the first train, I hope, doctor ? "Yes, my lady," bowed the worthy doctor. "I regret I cannot, go with you," said her ladyship. "I may possibly follow you. It will not be necessary for me to identify her. I wish her interment to be conducted with all possible ceremony, as becomes one of her family and alliance. I wish all the arrangements to be in the best taste, and expenditure need not be limited. Let the silver plate of her burial casket be engraved with the words Carmine Moer, wife of Darrel Moer.' The name that was denied her in life must be given her in death. Let the local papers contain an obituary notice of her, recalling her fame as La belle Carmine,' the noted actress, declaring her marriage to Mr. Darrel Moer, nephew of the present Lord Waldemar, and announcing her death and funeral. Justice must be done her at last, doctor." "Yes, my lady. Justice shall be done her. The obituary notice shall read as you say. I'll write it myself. Shall I say that she was the sister of the Countess of Rothsmere ? Say simply that she was allied to a noble family, sir, or tell her history plainly as I have told you, adding nothing. For reasons of my own, I desire that my name shall not be men- tioned in connection with her, and I especially: desire that nothing may be said at present of this visit to you. I have a sacred duty to dis- charge, and all other feelings must give way until I shall have discharged it." "I think I understand, my lady," murmured; the little doctor, half-inaudiblv. "Notices of Mrs. Darrel Moer's death will appear in all Monday's papers of London, and the larger towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire," said the Hungarian Countess calmly. "These i! shall cause to be published, and I shall write them. I desire you to send me full particu- lars concerning Mrs. Darrel Moer's interment, with newspapers containing the obituary notices which you purpose writing. I shall procure a suitable headstone for her grave. There is only one thing more—the payment for the last rites. Her ladyship again took out her pocket-book, and produced from it a crisp new Bank of Eng- land note for one hundred pounds, giving it to the doctor. ° "If you need more money, draw upon me," she said. "My address is Park Lane, at Lady Thaxter's house. I will write it." Thaxter's house. I will write it." She wrote name, street and number very plainly upon her card, which still lay on the table, and the doctor took possession of the pasteboard. Her ladyship then signified her intention of departing, and the little doctor, in a flutter of awe and self-importance, escorted her down to Lady Thaxter's carriage, which, in all the bravery of mulberry cushions, fat horses with gold-plated trappings, and servants in livery, stood before the door of the hotel, the centre of an admiring crowd. Dr. Parfitt waved the footman aside with quite an air, and assisted the beautiful Countess into the luxurious vehicle. The footman helped in the Hungarian attendant, the carriage door was closed, the footman mounted to his place, and horses and carriage moved away on their return to the West End. "I understand what her sacred duty is, to which everything else must give way," thought the doctor, looking after the vanishing equip- age. "She is beset with secret terrors and anxieties. I could see that, under all her ap- parent calmness. I read her eyes at one or two momentous points in our conversation, and I read her soul through them like a book. She has come to England to find or to avenge her sister. I wonder some instinct does not warn Darrel Moer that there's danger brewing for him. Just so sure as he lives, this beautiful foreign Countess will wreak upon him some awful vengeance for her sister's wrongs I" "r CHAPTER L. A GLIMMER OF DAWN. Lady Rothsmere returned from her interview with Dr. Parfitt in the City to Lady Thaxter's J house in Park Lane. She was in a very silent mood, which her attendant carefully respected. Her ladyship scarcely spoke until she was again in her own luxurious suite of rooms, and had removed her bonnet and jacket, and even then her words were brief. "You may lay out my dinner costume, Catharine," she said wearily, speaking in the Hungarian tongue. "We must keep up a brave exterior even when the heart is breaking. What- ever my own depth of anguish, I must not forget the duties of a guest to a hostess. But don't ask me what I shall wear. I have no heart for Jaces and trinkets. I go now to find Sir Hugh Tregaron." She brushed the waves of her lovely grey liair, which, contrasted so strangely with the youthful aad exquisite beauty of her face, and descended to the drawing-room. The young Cornish baronet was not there. She sought hiui, with a growing sense of disappointment, in the boudoir and conservatory, %ud finally went to the library. Sir Hugh was here, but apparently upon the point of going out. His grave, handsome face brightened as her ladyship came in, and he greeted her with his usual chivalric courtesy. courtesy. "I thought you were gone out, Lady Roths- mere, he said. My aunt went out in the brougham half an hour since upon a shoppng! expedition, and will not return, I fancy, for azl hour yet." The Hungarian Countess accepted the chair Sir Hugh placed for her. "I have had quite an excursion,n she re- marked, in a voice that trembled in spite of her efforts to keep it calm. "I have been into the City, Sir Hugh. It is like another world than our West End, is it not ? Sir Hugh, be seated. I have a communication to make to you." The young baronet seated himself conveniently near to her. Her ladyship hesitated a moment, and theM resumed bravely resumed bravely 'Sir Hugh, some weeks since, when Miss Glint came to this house, you asked me some questions relative to my acquaintance with Mr. Darrel Moer, or you desired me to tell you anything which I might know concerning his TfST a could not answer your inquiries then. II do «o now, it must be with some reser- vaiions. I promised to befriend Miss Glint, and 1 have borne that promise in mind. After her disappearance at Bolton, and while you were searching there for her, I set detectives to watch Mr. Darrel Moer and his man Bing. These detectives were withdrawn over a week ago, owing to the pressure of other work upon them. But yesterday morning, at my urgent and express request, a special officer was de- tailed again to the duty of shadowing,' as the superintendent called it-of shadowing Mr. Moer." "I have a private man detailed to the sam<> duty," said Sir Hugh Tregaron quietly. "He's been off duty a day or two, owing to sickness, but will be on again on Monday." "You asited mo once if I knew anything concerning a previous marriage of Darrel Moer, Sir Hugh," said her ladyship. "I do know that he was married at the church of St. Helen, Brighton, to Carmine Rolf, the actress, known as La belle Carmine.' Here are proofs of the marriage." The Countess gave into the young baronet's hands the two copies of the registry of the marriage thus alluded to. Sir Hugh read them, his face flushing. 1 wonder I did not think of going to Somerset House," he exclaimed, "but I thought -I fancied he might have been married abroad, and it had not occurred to* me to look in England for proofs." "You fancied that I was his wife: I read your thought at the time, Sir Hugh. But, I was never his wife, and he never made love to me," said the Hungarian Countess proudly. "That he has wronged me in, some way, you may have guessed. That much is true; but the hour of his retribution is drawing near." ■^a^,re^ Moer was married, then, toj Carmine Roff ? said Sir Hugh, in a tone of disappoint- ment* "His wife diedsom* tears- ago. Shr not been seen these ten yearg. As she has to long been dead, that marriaga cannot affect Moer's claims upon HonoT." "His wife, Carmine Mow-, died the night Moer's claims upon HonoT." "His wife, Carmine Mow-, died the night before last," explained the Countess impressively. "The night before last! cried Sir Hugh, j.1 amazement. "So lately!" "Yes, Sir Hugh, and she will be btiriv under her rightful name of Carmine Moer, probably on Monday." An ineffable joy flooded Sir Hugh Tregaron's being. "This is worth years of life, Lady Roths- mere," he said, with rapturous eyes. "Honor is free "As free as the winds, Sir Hugh." "Free from the hated bonds that tied her to Darrel Moer—free to accept my love-free to marry me Oh, thank God "But she is not free in another sense, Sir Hugh," said the Countess gravely. "I cannot think her dead. She is pining somewhere in imprisonment, oppressed, debarred God's sun- shine and fresh air, and crying to us to release her. How are we to find her ? "I have been active, Lady Rothsmere. I have set all the machinery of the law in motion I have sought for her day and night; but her hiding-place eludes me." "First of all," said the Countess, "I millt have notices of Mrs. Darrel Moer's death in the London papers of Monday morning. Tliat will be springing a mine upon Mr. Darrel Moer. The papers may even catch Honor's eyes by some providence. The name of Carmine Moer I has been heaped with obloquy by Darrel Moer's' own hands for ten years. His shrugs and sneers made people believe her not his wife. Justice shall be done her in her grave, Sir Hugh. I did not know until to-day that she had just died. Fate threw in my way-or was it Provi- dence 1-a brief advertisement in this morning's newspaper signed by a mad-house doctor, and calling for information of an escaped female lunatic named Carmine Roff. You will find the advertisement in one of those paprrs yonder. She rose, sought for the advertisement, found it, and gave it into Sir Hugh's hands. Ho read it attentively, and raised again to her his rapturous eyes. "It brings back the vivid and full realisation of the fact that Moer has no claims :ipon Honor," he said. "Her marriage to him was a mere farce." "But she does not know it. She believes herself still bound to him. What if he were to attempt to make up with her, to promise better things, to win her pardon ? "Impossible! She loathes and detests him. She will never be anything to hitn, Countess. Besides, he intends to marry Miss Floyd, I have no doubt. He can do so legally, since his wife is dead, "Honor being nothing whatever to him." "Yes, he doubtless hopes to retrieve his fortunes by a marriage with Miss Floyd. But Lord Waldemar will not permit such a union when he knows Moer's villainy." "Did you visit this Dr. Parfitt to-day, Countess?" asked Sir Hugh. "I hastened to the Queen's Hotel immediately on reading the advertisement. I found Dr. Par- fitt, who is a most amiable man, and who gave me full particulars concerning Mrs. Darrel Moer. All payments for the keeping of the Moer. All payments for the keeping of the unfortunate lady have come through the man Bing, who is the only person Dr. Parfitt hat* known in connection with her. Darrel Moei has foully wronged her, but she will be avenged, said the Countess, in a stern, low voice. "But enough of this, Sir Hugh. We will talk of the living rather than the dead. I telegraphed yesterday to the company which owns tha line of Mediterranean steamers of which the Argonaut is the best vessel, to inquire when that steamer is expected. She is looked for on Tuesday next. And now, Sir Hugh, I beg you to write to-night to Captain Glint, care of his ship's owners, and inform him of his daugh- ter's disappearance and urgo him to come up to London as early as possible." "I will do so, "'said Sir Hugh, "although 1 doubt if the captain can do more than we have already done." "Have we done all that we could? asked Lady Rothsmere, a freight of anxiety in her low voice. Sir Hugh, I begin to fear that we have been restrained by a false delicacy in keeping this matter from Lord Waldemar. We should have told him that we suspect his nephew of being concerned in Honor's dis- appearance. "But, dear Countess, we cannot prove that Moer is concerned in it. Thero are other possibilities not less terrible. Lord Waldemai is a grand old man, but as stern aid unyield- ing as a rock. His only son married, against his knowledge, the daughter of his enemy, and he would never forgive either of the pair. I would not lightly wring his heart by avowing to him the villainy of which we suspect Moer. His lordship is alone in the world,! save for his grandchild, and he dislikes her for her fsemblance to her mother's family. He is possibly not fond of Moer, but I daresay he really loves him. There is a vast fund of tenderness underlying his sternness and hard- ness. And finally, I promised Moer to keep silent concerning my suspicions of him until I had some stronger grounds for them." "I have not promised Moer," said the] Countess decidedly, "and I shall risk wounding! Lord Waldemar's soul by telling him all ourl suspicions. He will be in this evening, and I! shall improve tho opportunity. And now, Sir Hugh, I desire to write my notices of the deatlil of Mrs. Darrel Moer. Will you procure their;, insertion ? Sir Hugh assented, and Lady Rothsmere seated herself at a desk and wrote an obituary notice of the character she had indicated in speaking to Dr. Parfitt. Sir Hugh Tregaron made several copies of it, and took charge of them. ° "The one great thought that occupies me now is that Honor is not, bound to Moer," said the young Baronet, giving back to her ladyship the two copies of the registries of Moer's first mar- riage. "Oh, if Honor only knew tho truth! Wherever she is the knowledge would make her' happy, despite her persecutions." We shall find her soon," said the Countess. "Hope on, Sir Hegh. The end of our long sorrow draws near. It is almost dawn." Sir Hugh went out upon his errand, full of gratitude to the lovely Countess, and full of sympathy for her. "She seema to put away her own griefs to comfort and inspirit me," he thought. "What is this Carmine Roff to her ? Both are German- But her ladyship's private affairs are sacred to, her. I must devote all my thoughts to HonorJ: my poor little missing Honor. j At dinner, Lady Rothsmere, Lady Thaxter, Mrs. Early and Sir Hugh Tregaron were present as lisual, and the beautiful Hungarian Countessl seemed cheerful, and was full of anecdote and', wit. She was one of those rare, unselfish ] persons who seldom allow the pall of their ownj; sorrows to overshadow others. She covered her1, aching ireairt with a brave smile, and never] forgot th feelings of others in thinking of her own. After dinner, the party returned to the drawing-room. A messenger soon after called with a letter for Lady Rothsmere. She read it and handed it to Sir Hugh Tregaron. It was to the effect that the detectite who had been set to watch Darrel Moer, had been called home by the dangerous illness of hiw wife, but had placed on the watch in his stead < man in whom might be reposed the utmosjt confidence. "I'm glad to hear that Moer is not to be left unwatched to-night," said Sir Hugh. "I am morally certain that he won't leave town to-night, to-day being Saturday; but the only safe way in dealing with such a villain is tol make sure of his movements, leaving him no chance to slip off unseen. I am persuaded that Honor is still in Lancashire, and that Moer will be wary about visiting her, the more especially as he knows that the Bolton police are still on the alert. But then, again, he might select this very evening for such a visit." "I agree with you perfectly, Sir Hugh," said Lady Rothsmere thoughtfully. "And I am glad that Moer is to-night under surveillance, for I feel somehow as if to-night were a crisis in all our lives and fortunes." Ah, if they had but known This night was that in which Darrel Moer and Grimrod, the latter unknown to the former, had gone forth with murder in their hearts to seek the lonely young prisoner at the Cypresses CHAPTER LI. TIlB ESCAPS. Upon that eventful Saturday night, while Darrel Moer and Grimrod were speeding towards the Cypresses, with the fell purpose of murder in their hearts, a great and unaccount- able droad fettM down like a dean blaok ptdi J upon the soul of yonng Honor Glint, she grew uneasy even before the night fell. A vagu" depression, such as often warns sensitive peoplb of an impending peril, seized upoJ her, detun- ing into a terrible foreboding, and that pall- like dread nnJ gloon. which no reasoning could dispel. Miss Bing brought up a fresh supply of coal, fresh candles, and a tray of food about dusk, although day and night were nearly the same to the young prisoner in her darkened chamber. The woman returned to hor kitchen, and Honor drank her tea and ate her dry toast, and paced her floor restlessly. Miss Bing came up a little later f.ir the tray, and did ayi fail to mark the uneasiness of her captive. "Somehow you seem to feel your imprison- ment most, miss, just as it is about to end," said the spinster familiarly. "I shall sot vou free on Monday, and yet you look more down- hearted like than at any time since you came here." "Are you sure that Darrel Moer will release me on Monday ? asked the young girl abruptly. "Of course, I'm sure. Why should he detain you here, when your release cannot injure him ? His first wife is dead, and if he marries Miss Floyd to-day his last marriage is legal. He will want you to promise that he 11 shall not be troubled for imprisoning you, and he will write me to exact such a promise, and to let you go. He won't leave his new bride to come here, you may be sure. He has no longer any fear of you, miss. So you're certain! to be free on Monday." "Let me go to-night," cried the girl, in eager pleading. "I will make you a promise that I will never seek to harm Darrel Moer. I have money in my pocket. I'll give you fifty I pounds to release me to-night. f The woman was visibly tempted, but she |resisted'the temptation, shaking her head in the (negative. "I'll tell Mr. Moer of your offer, and he'll jmake up the sum to me. No, miss, there's jno use in talking. Here you are, and here jyou'll stay till I have orders to release you. I shouldn't dare to do anything without orders, jseeing that Watson would never forgive me if 'anything went wrong. I must go downstairs [now. Where is your knife I brought up on jthe tray ? Oh, I see it now. I have to look sharp for the knives since that breakfast knife disappeared from your tray the other morning. Perhaps I forgot to bring one upstairs," the Iwoman muttered, speaking more to herself than to Honor. "I'll take a fresh look in the pantry. She gathered up the tray and departed, lock- ing the door behind her. Honor was left in the grim solitude, which was peopled only by the shapeless terrors crowd- ing upon her. For hours she walked the floor or sat before her fire, but she felt no disposi- tion to sleep, and made no movement towards .retiring. Miss Bing heaped high her kitchen fire, and look possession of one of tho high-backed settles, and dozed in the warmth and firelight. About half-past nine o'clock, the ring of a horse's hoofs was heard on the paved way pleading from the high-road to the lonely old house, and a horse was ridden sharply around to the rear hall door, and a thunderous rap jwas given upon the old brass knocker. Miss Bing sprang up wide awake, and went to the door. She opened it cautiously and peered out. The night was not dark, nor ..<¡,s it very light. The stars were shining, and objects could be distinctly seen at the distance of several rods. Miss Bing beheld upon her doorstep a tall, half-grown lad, whose bridle rein hung over his arm. "What's wanted?" she demanded sharply. Is this the Cypresses ? asked the lad. Miss Bing replied in the affirmative. "Here's a telegram for Miss Bing, at the Cypresses," said the messenger. Miss Bing held out her long bony arm for the envelope, received it, bade the messenger wait a moment, as she might require to send an answer by him, and closed and locked the door in his face, hurrying into the kitchen. She read her telegram by the firelight. It was from Darrel Moer, dated at London, and contained only these words "Am on my way to see you. Don't discharge that person upon any account, nor for any consideration whatever." l Miss Bing puzzled over this message a few moments, then remembering the lad on the Bteps, she produced a shilling from her pocket, and cautiously reopening the rear door, bestowed upon him the gratuity, and told him bestowed upon him the ithat no answer was required. He leaped linto his saddle and rode away, and the woman again secured her door. "There's something mysterious abont thial message," the woman thought. "Something isi in the wind. It's plain Mr. Moer got uneasy, and was afraid I'd let the young lady go. But| why should he cume here ? I can't understand the matter. I'll go up and talk it over with Miss Glint." She mounted the stairs and admitted herself into Honor's room. The girl was walking still I I across the floor, but paused as her gaoler; entered.a fliint ray of hope brightening HOnOf'f¡i young face. "Have you thought over my úHer, Miss! ng she asked. "And are yon come to tell I me that you will release me ? "No, I haven't come for that piirpose, said the woman. "I have just received a tele-[ gram. Perhaps you heard the messenger's! horse, miss?" "I heard a horse, but believed that the! farmer might have called to bring you the provisions you ordered to-d^y." "They came long ago. The horseman was a messenger from Somersham with a teleeram from Mr. Moer. He's on his way here. H'lI oe here to-night. "What for ? lIfhat is what I cannot guess. I wrote to him that the doctor's assistant had carried away the dead body of ifrs. Moer, so he's not; coming to see her. His visit concerns you.! He says I am not to release you upon any! account, nor for any consideration whatever.' Can it bo that he is taking this journey merely! to exact a promise from you which I could exact just as well as ho? demanded Miss' Bing. "Perhaps," she added, with a sudden! idea, "he has slipped up in his marriage with Miss Floyd, and he's coming back to you ? Honor shuddered. She knew that Darrel i Moer had loved her as much as he was capable of loving anyone, and the idea seemed to her not unlikely. 1 "But I am not hio wife," she said, "and Ii will not marry him. If he comes to-night, I I will not see him." "He is master in this house," said Miss Bing j soolly. "I advise you to be 'ready to receive I is visit. I must go now to prepare his supper. [ have told you of Ir. Moer's coniing, so that: rou will not retire. It is fortunate I did not release you." She retired abruptly, securing the door behind her. Honor's first act, after the woman's with- drawal, was to push her bedstead against' the jdoor leading into the hall, and to wheel her ^hest of drawers against the door leading into jMiss Bing's room. Thus barricaded, she ffelt more secure. "I believe I comprehend the reason of his coming." the young girl thought. "Miss Floyd has refused to marry him, and his old fancy for me has revived. I understand now why I feel so strangely to-night. Darrel Moer thinks he can force me to become his wife. But I will not be here to meet him," she said to her-, self, her dusky eyes flashing. "My only safety i is in flight. He is utterly without honour or i principle. I dare not meet him. I will risk everything-,deat)i even-rather than remain here in a trap helpless, like some snared bird. But can I escape ? The keyholes of both the doors were covered by her barricades. She pushed her small table under the window, and then stole to the hearth, pushed aside the fender, and with her slender fingers prised up two of the bricks forming the hearth. In a little cavity beneath these bricks was hidden the breakfast knife whose loss Miss Bing had remarked. Honor took it out. It had been worn and ground to a point, and had been as keen as- a dagger. The blade, however, was broken now, and the keen edge was indented and broken, shewing that it had been subject to severe use. Honor seized this implement and mounted her table before the window. The nails and spikes which fastened down the window had been loosened by the ttril of days and nights, and Honor drew them orrt readily. She had taken them out before many times, for she had not 'tamely submittal to'h'9r> captivity, and had not ceased to plan an escape from the hour i which she had come to the Cypresses. During the first fortnight of her imprisonment she had found no opportunity of secreting i table knife, for Miss Bing had searched the tray on every occasion, and Honor dared not place the woman on her guard by allowing her to suspect her plans. There was nothing in the room that could serve the girl's purpose, and one morning, waxing bolder and more desperate, she had prised up the bricks in the hearth, and bad hidden her table knife under them. Miss! Bmg had missed it, had made inquiries, to! which Honor returned no answer, had searched! the room thoroughly, and had come to the! onclusion that she must have omitted, by some: "trange oversight, to bring a knife upon this i nccafion. She was more watchful thereafter) even than before, yet Honor had found many hours in which to toil for her freedom. She pushed up the lower sash, and examined, the fastenings upon the shutters-a hasp, staple and padlock. She had cut the wood nearly! away around the heel of the hasp, and fiftecr minutes' work would suffice to enable her t( open the heavy wooden shutters. She set t< work resolutely, with all her strength con- secrated in her slender wrists and hands. Sb* toiled as a man toils for his life. But fifteer.1 minutes had never seemed so long to her before, nor had she ever crowded so much of work! and anxiety into a similar space of time. She paused often to listen. The dulled knife slipped, and frequently refused to penetrate! the wood. But the giri's heart did not falter, and at last she achieved her triumph. The! hasp and padlock hung loosely on one of the' '-ihutters, and both would open at her touch. She swung them wide, and leaned out of the window, and looked at earth and sky. How glorious were the stars, the fresh breeze, jthe waving of the trees She did not heed the! |noxious air that came up from the reeking' feiis, but exulted in the strange delight of her jpartial freedom. As soon as the first intoxication of her joy ,had passed, and her ecstatic eyes had grown irnlm, and her resolute will had stilled her throbbing pulses, she crept down from her 'perch, and prepared for her descent. j fe'he had a small pair of toy scissors which she had used in sewing, and with these she divided the hems of her sheets, softly tearing ;!i e wide linen into heavy strips. Tiien with [difficulty she cut up the thick woollen blankets, laying all her strips into one continuous rope. "I can't make it reach from tie bedstead j o the ground," she thought. "I sl a 1 have to drng the bedstead to the window. How the :time is passing! Darrel Moer must soon be And Miss Bing is likely to come up at I any moment to see if I have gone to bed. 1 begin to fear that I shall not escape. She pushed ti.e bedstead under the window, exerting all her strength, and panting heavily, stopping frequently to rest and listen. No pounds yet of Miss Bing. She trembled with anxiety lest her gaoler should hear the rumbling jf the bedstead, and she looked in vain for 'ome further barrier to place against the door. "She creeps upstairs like a cat when she lomes," murmured Honor. "She may be at jthe door now. She is likely to pounce upon me %t any moment." The fear spurred her to even greater quickness. She secured one end of the rope she had ,r,ade to the bedstead, and dropped the other |MI'C of the window. It fell within three feet of the ground. "That will do," she said aloud, with a prenth cf relief. "And now I must attempt my jUight." She put on her sacque hastily, her hat and !?ur tippet, and climbed over the bed upon the high window sill. Without a moment's hesitation, she grasped the frail rope and swung herself clear of the house. She slipped slowly: downward, the rope swaying dangerously, and her hands catching upon the thick knots and faring the tender skin, but she reached the end safely and dropped noiselessly upon the ground. She was up again in an instant, with a great! error lest Miss Bing had been lurking under ler window to captured her, or lest Darrel Moer, might chance to be in sight. But her gaoler was back in the kitchen, busily preparing a, nipper for her expected visitor, and had not! heard her movements, and Darrel Moer was! -rules away. Honor looked about her with wild eyes, and hen, as a consciousness that she was indeed free burst fully upon her, she upraised her! syes with a prayer of gratitude to Heaven, andj then spod like an arrow from the bow across the cypress-shaded lawn to the paved road, andj ilong this to the highway. As she opened the big five-barred gate, and; stood upon the high road, she paused; a moment, uncertain which way to go. "I must (ret to Somersham Station," she!: !bought. "Which way shall I take? I've not- much time to deliberate. I'U turn to thej right." bl-e did so, settmg out at a rapid walk, and keeping a look-out. before and behind her. The night was pleasant, but the air was chilly1 and kern, with r, breath of winter in it. The -iars, it seemed to Honor, who had not seen ihem for so loi g, were brighter than ever she had seen them. They brought back to her with -iiigulnr vividneess the soft, still nights she had p":rcd upon the Mediterranean, with a blue sky roll of golden stars tending above her. With a half-^sob, as thoughts of Sir Hugh Tregaron, j'.ind b'if friends in London and Captain Glint, half-^sob, as thoughts of Sir Hugh Tregaron, r:nd bJt friends in London and Captain Glint, -■ igt'd upon her mind, she quickened her pp.ee to a run. A few minutes brotight her within sight ofl the farmer's cottage. It was wrapt in darkness. fl<;ror was tempted tó Muse up the farmer, •bell him her storv, and offer him money to eonvey her to Somersham Stat, but a sense of csution restrained her. She re-ilected that she did not know what Miss Bing m'ight have lold him conceining her. He might i."l ppose her—Honor—to be Darrel Moer's wife: 40, might think her mad. "No, no; it is not safe," she said. "I am free r.ow, and I cannot be too guarded. In any case, if I were to tell the farmer my story, he might wish to see Miss Bing and confront me with her. I am safer as I am. I can walk the dozen miles before morning." She passed the cottage and hurried on. The road was narrow and ill-paved, and i was bordered with deep ditches. Beyond the ditches, in many places, and bordering the fields, were thickets of alder and other bushes. The fields were mere stretches of fen; some !rained, some covered with stagnant water and swamp vegetation, the home of vast numbers of t erfowl. Honor's progress was necessarily slow, after settling into a steady gait. She had gone some three miles when she heard the rattling of a vehicle, rapidly driven, approaching her from the direction in which she was going. "It may be-it must be Darrel Moer! -she thought. She sprang over the roadside ditch and hid herself in a thicket of alders. Some two minutes afterwards, a dog-cart, idrawn by a powerful, fleet horse, came rattling (round a curve in the road and passed her. The vehicle had but a single occupant. That occupant was Darrel Moer. She recognised the dark, moustached face with a thrill of terror, and dared not stir from her concealment until he was well out of sight. She trembled, and was strengthless. Her very breath was hushed. "He tiztfr come from Somersham Statiwn," she !paid, as soon as she could command her I thoughts: "I am upon the right road." Sne was about to rise and resume her weari- some flight, when a second clatter of hoofe upon the pavbd road beyond the curve made her shrink back- in her concealment. A horseman came riding put at a good pace, from tije direction in which Moer had come, and followed thedirection in which Moer was going. No tholiiht of appeal to this rider entered Honor's mind. He looked so dnrk and fierce and terrfble that she felt an instinctive horror of him, and hid herself yet deeper from his sight. The horseman was Grimrod. When he had passed on out of her sight, the girl crept out fr6m the friendly thicket, and fled along the lonely road, in the chilly night, through the gloomy fens, as if the pursuers hao been at her heels. She knew that it was only question of minutes, and that Darrel, Moei would soon be on her track. (To ÓI continued.)

Advertising

- Death of a Pontypridd Colliery…

__-_._---------PONTYPRIDD…

YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BE WITHOUT…

Advertising