The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
Fergus Hume (1859-1932)
Part 4 out of 6
an' 'e says, 'No.' Then she ses, 'It's about 'er;' and ses 'e, lookin'
very white, ''Ow dare you 'ave 'er name on your vile lips?' an' she
gits up an' screeches, 'Turn that gal out, an' I'll tell you;' an' 'e
takes me by the arm, an' ses 'e, ''Ere git out,' an' I gits out, an'
that's all I knows."
"And how long was he with her?" asked Calton, who had been listening
"'Bout arf-a-hour," answered Sal. "I takes 'im back to Russell Street
'bout twenty-five minutes to two, 'cause I looked at the clock on the
Post Office, an' 'e gives me a sov., an' then he goes a-tearin' up the
street like anything."
"Take him about twenty minutes to walk to East Melbourne," said Calton
to himself "So he must just have got in at the time Mrs. Sampson said.
He was in with the 'Queen' the whole time, I suppose?" he asked,
looking keenly at Sal.
"I was at that door," said Sal, pointing to it, "an' 'e couldn't 'ave
got out unless I'd seen 'im."
"Oh, it's all right," said Calton, nodding to Kilsip, "there won't be
any difficulty in proving an ALIBI. But I say," he added, turning to
Sal, "what were they talking about?"
"I dunno," answered Sal. "I was at the door, an' they talks that quiet
I couldn't 'ear 'em. Then he sings out, 'My G--, it's too horrible!'
an' I 'ear 'er a larfin' like to bust, an' then 'e comes to me, and
ses, quite wild like, 'Take me out of this 'ell!' an' I tooked 'im."
"And when you came back?"
"She was dead."
"Dead?" "As a blessed door-nail," said Sal, cheerfully.
"An' I never knowd I was in the room with a corpse," wailed
Mother Guttersnipe, waking up. "Cuss 'er, she was allays a-doin'
"How do you know?" said Calton, sharply, as he rose to go.
"I knowd 'er longer nor you," croaked the old woman, fixing one evil
eye on the lawyer; "an' I know what you'd like to know; but ye shan't,
Calton turned from her with a shrug of his shoulders.
"You will come to the Court to-morrow with Mr. Kilsip," he said to Sal,
"and tell what you have just now told me."
"It's all true, s'elp me," said Sal, eagerly; "'e was 'ere all the
Calton stepped towards the door, followed by the detective, when Mother
"Where's the money for finin' her?" she screeched, pointing one skinny
finger at Sal.
"Well, considering the girl found herself," said Calton, dryly, "the
money is in the bank, and will remain there."
"An' I'm to be done out of my 'ard earned tin, s'elp me?" howled the
old fury. "Cuss ye, I'll 'ave the lawr of ye, and get ye put in quod."
"You'll go there yourself if you don't take care," said Kilsip, in his
soft, purring tones.
"Yah!" shrieked Mother Guttersnipe, snapping her fingers at him. "What
do I care about yer quod? Ain't I bin in Pentrig', an' it ain't 'urt
me, it ain't? I'm as lively as a gal, I am."
And the old fury, to prove the truth of her words, danced a kind of war
dance in front of Mr. Calton, snapping her fingers and yelling out
curses, as an accompaniment to her ballet. Her luxurious white hair
streamed out during her gyrations, and with her grotesque appearance
and the faint light of the candle, she presented a gruesome spectacle.
Calton remembered the tales he had heard of the women of Paris,
at the revolution, and the way they danced "La Carmagnole." Mother
Guttersnipe would have been in her element in that sea of blood and
turbulence he thought. But he merely shrugged his shoulders, and walked
out of the room, as with a final curse, delivered in a hoarse voice,
Mother Guttersnipe sank exhausted on the floor, and yelled for gin.
THE VERDICT OF THE JURY.
Next morning the Court was crowded, and numbers were unable to gain
admission. The news that Sal Rawlins, who alone could prove the
innocence of the prisoner, had been found, and would appear in Court
that morning, had spread like wildfire, and the acquittal of the
prisoner was confidently expected by a large number of sympathising
friends, who seemed to have sprung up on all sides, like mushrooms, in
a single night. There were, of course, plenty of cautious people left
who waited to hear the verdict of the jury before committing
themselves, and who still believed him to be guilty. But the unexpected
appearance of Sal Rawlins had turned the great tide of public feeling
in favour of the prisoner, and many who had been loudest in their
denunciations of Fitzgerald, were now more than half convinced of his
innocence. Pious clergymen talked in an incoherent way about the finger
of God and the innocent not suffering unjustly, which was a case of
counting unhatched chickens, as the verdict had yet to be given.
Felix Rolleston awoke, and found himself famous in a small way. Out of
good-natured sympathy, and a spice of contrariness, he had declared his
belief in Brian's innocence, and now, to his astonishment, he found
that his view of the matter was likely to prove correct. He
received so much praise on all sides for his presumed perspicuity, that
he soon began to think that he had believed in Fitzgerald's innocence
by a calm course of reasoning, and not because of a desire to differ
from every one else in their opinion of the case. After all, Felix
Rolleston is not the only mall who has been astonished to find
greatness thrust upon him, and come to believe himself worthy of it. He
was a wise man, however, and while in the full tide of prosperity he
seized the flying moment, and proposed to Miss Featherweight, who,
after some hesitation, agreed to endow him with herself and her
thousands. She decided that her future husband was a man of no common
intellect, seeing that he had long ago arrived at a conclusion which
the rest of Melbourne were only beginning to discover now, so she
determined that, as soon as she assumed marital authority, Felix, like
Strephon in "Iolanthe," should go into Parliament, and with her money
and his brains she might some day be the wife of a premier. Mr.
Rolleston had no idea of the political honours which his future spouse
intended for him, and was seated in his old place in the court, talking
about the case.
"Knew he was innocent, don't you know," he said, with a complacent
smile "Fitzgerald's too jolly good-looking a fellow, and all that sort
of thing, to commit murder."
Whereupon a clergyman, happening to overhear the lively Felix make this
flippant remark, disagreed with it entirely, and preached a sermon to
prove that good looks and crime were closely connected, and that both
Judas Iscariot and Nero were beauty-men.
"Ah," said Calton, when he heard the sermon, "if this unique theory is
a true one, what a truly pious man that clergyman must be!" This
allusion to the looks of the reverend gentleman was rather unkind, for
he was by no means bad-looking. But then Calton was one of
those witty men who would rather lose a friend than suppress an
When the prisoner was brought in, a murmur of sympathy ran through the
crowded Court, so ill and worn-out he looked; but Calton was puzzled to
account for the expression of his face, so different from that of a man
whose life had been saved, or, rather, was about to be saved, for in
truth it was a foregone conclusion.
"You know who stole those papers," he thought, as he looked at
Fitzgerald, keenly, "and the man who did so is the murderer of Whyte."
The judge having entered, and the Court being opened, Calton rose to
make his speech, and stated in a few words the line of defence he
intended to take.
He would first call Albert Dendy, a watchmaker, to prove that on
Thursday night, at eight o'clock in the evening, he had called at the
prisoner's, lodgings while the landlady was out, and while there had
put the kitchen clock right, and had regulated the same. He would also
call Felix Rolleston, a friend of the prisoners, to prove that the
prisoner was not in the habit of wearing rings, and frequently
expressed his detestation of such a custom. Sebastian Brown, a waiter
at the Melbourne Club, would be called to prove that on Thursday night
a letter was delivered to the prisoner at the Club by one Sarah
Rawlins, and that the prisoner left the Club shortly before one o'clock
on Friday morning. He would also call Sarah Rawlins, to prove that she
had delivered a note to Sebastian Brown for the prisoner, at the
Melbourne Club, at a quarter to twelve on Thursday Night, and that at a
few minutes past one o'clock on Friday morning she had conducted the
prisoner to a slum off Little Bourke Street, and that he was there
between one and two on Friday morning, the hour at which the murder was
alleged to have taken place. This being his defence to the
charge brought against the prisoner, he would call Albert Dendy.
Albert Dendy, duly sworn, stated--
I am a watchmaker, and carry on business in Fitzroy. I remember
Thursday, the 26th of July last. On the evening of that day I called at
Powlett Streel East Melbourne, to see my aunt, who is the landlady of
the prisoner. She was out at the time I called, and I waited in the
kitchen till her return. I looked at the kitchen clock to see if it was
too late to wait, and then at my watch I found that the clock was ten
minutes fast, upon which I put it right, and regulated it properly.
CALTON: At what time did you put it right?
WITNESS: About eight o'clock.
CALTON: Between that time and two in the morning, was it possible for
the clock to gain ten minutes?
WITNESS: No, it was not possible.
CALTON: Would it gain at all?
WITNESS: Not between eight and two o'clock--the time was not long
CALTON: Did you see your aunt that night?
WITNESS: Yes, I waited till she came in.
CALTON: And did you tell her you had put the clock right?
WITNESS: No, I did not; I forgot all about it.
CALTON: Then she was still under the impression that it was ten minutes
WITNESS: Yes, I suppose so
After Dendy had been cross-examined, Felix Rolleston was called, and
deposed as follows:--
I am an intimate friend of the prisoner. I have known him for five or
six years, and I never saw him wearing a ring during that time. He has
frequently told me he did not care for rings, and would never wear
CROWN PROSECUTOR: You have never seen the prisoner wearing a diamond
WITNESS: No, never.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: Have you ever seen any such ring in his possession?
WITNESS: No, I have seen him buying rings for ladies, but I never saw
him with any ring such as a gentleman would wear.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: Not even a seal ring.
WITNESS: No, not even a seal ring.
Sarah Rawlins was then placed in the witness-box, and, after having
been sworn, deposed--
I know the prisoner. I delivered a letter, addressed to him at the
Melbourne Club, at a quarter to twelve o'clock on Thursday, 26th July.
I did not know what his name was. He met me shortly after one, at the
corner of Russell and Bourke Streets, where I had been told to wait for
him. I took him to my grandmother's place, in a lane off Little Bourke
Street. There was a dying woman there, who had sent for him. He went in
and saw her for about twenty minutes, and then I took him back to the
corner of Bourke and Russell Streets. I heard the three-quarters strike
shortly after I left him.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: You are quite certain that the prisoner was the man
you met on that night?
WITNESS: Quite certin', s'elp me G--.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: And he met you a few minutes past one o'clock?
WITNESS: Yes, 'bout five minutes--I 'eard the clock a-strikin' one
just afore he came down the street, and when I leaves 'im agin, it were
about twenty-five to two, 'cause it took me ten minits to git 'ome, and
I 'eard the clock go three-quarters, jest as I gits to the door.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: How do you know it was exactly twenty-five to
two when you left him?
WITNESS: 'Cause I sawr the clocks--I left 'im at the, corner of
Russell Street, and comes down Bourke Street, so I could see the Post
Orffice clock as plain as day, an' when I gets into Swanston Street, I
looks at the Town 'All premiscus like, and sees the same time there.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: And you never lost sight of the prisoner the whole
WITNESS: No, there was only one door by the room, an' I was a-sittin'
outside it, an' when he comes out he falls over me.
CROWN PROSECUTOR: Were you asleep?
WITNESS: Not a blessed wink.
Calton then directed Sebastian Brown to be called. He deposed--
I know the prisoner. He is a member of the Melbourne Club, at which I
am a waiter. I remember Thursday, 26th July. On that night the last
witness came with a letter to the prisoner. It was about a quarter to
twelve. She just gave it to me, and went away. I delivered it to Mr.
Fitzgerald. He left the Club at about ten minutes to one.
This closed the evidence for the defence, and after the Crown
Prosecutor had made his speech, in which he pointed out the strong
evidence against the prisoner, Calton arose to address the jury. He was
a fine speaker, and made a splendid defence. Not a single point escaped
him, and that brilliant piece of oratory is still remembered and spoken
of admiringly in the purlieus of Temple Court and Chancery Lane.
He began by giving a vivid description of the circumstances, of the
murder--of the meeting of the murderer and his victim in Collins
Street East--the cab driving down to St. Kilda--the getting out of
the cab of the murderer after committing the crime--and the
way in which he had secured himself against pursuit.
Having thus enchained the attention of the jury by the graphic manner
in which he described the crime, he pointed out that the evidence
brought forward by the prosecution was purely circumstantial, and that
they had utterly failed to identify the prisoner in the dock with the
man who entered the cab. The supposition that the prisoner and the man
in the light coat were one and the same person, rested solely upon the
evidence of the cabman, Royston, who, although not intoxicated,
was--judging from his own statements, not in a fit state to distinguish
between the man who hailed the cab, and the man who got in. The crime
was committed by means of chloroform; therefore, if the prisoner was
guilty, he must have purchased the chloroform in some shop, or obtained
it from some friends. At all events, the prosecution had not brought
forward a single piece of evidence to show how, and where the
chloroform had been obtained. With regard to the glove belonging to the
murdered man found in the prisoner's pocket, he picked it up off the
ground at the time when he first met Whyte, when the deceased was lying
drunk near the Scotch Church. Certainly there was no evidence to show
that the prisoner had picked it up before the deceased entered the cab;
but, on the other hand, there was no evidence to show that it had been
picked up in the cab. It was far more likely that the glove, and
especially a white glove, would be picked up under the light of the
lamp near the Scotch Church, where it was easily noticeable, than in
the darkness of a cab, where there was very little room, and where it
would be quite dark, as the blinds were drawn down. The cabman,
Royston, swore positively that the man who got out of his cab on the
St. Kilda Road wore a diamond ring on the forefinger of his right hand,
and the cabman, Rankin, swore to the same thing about the man
who got out at Powlett Street. Against this could be placed the
evidence of one of the prisoner's most intimate friends--one who had
seen him almost daily for the last five years, and he had sworn
positively that the prisoner was not in the habit of wearing rings.
The cabman Rankin had also sworn that the man who entered his cab on
the St. Kilda Road alighted at Powlett Street, East Melbourne, at two
o'clock on Friday morning, as he heard that hour strike from the Post
Office clock, whereas the evidence of the prisoner's landlady showed
plainly that he entered the house five minutes previously, and her
evidence was further supported by that of the watchmaker, Dendy. Mrs.
Sampson saw the hand of her kitchen clock point to five minutes to two,
and, thinking it was ten minutes slow, told the detective that the
prisoner did not enter the house till five minutes past two, which
would just give the man who alighted from the cab (presuming him to
have been the prisoner) sufficient time to walk up to his lodgings. The
evidence of the watchmaker, Dendy, however, showed clearly that he had
put the clock right at the hour of eight on Thursday night; that it was
impossible for it to gain ten minutes before two on Friday morning, and
therefore, the time, five minutes to two, seen by the landlady was the
correct one, and the prisoner was in the house five minutes before the
other man alighted from the cab in Powlett Street.
These points in themselves were sufficient to show that the prisoner
was innocent, but the evidence of the woman Pawlins must prove
conclusively to the jury that the prisoner was not the man who
committed the crime. The witness Brown had proved that the woman
Rawlins had delivered a letter to him, which he gave to the prisoner
and that the prisoner left the Club, to keep the appointment spoken of
in the letter, which letter, or, rather, the remains of it had been put
in evidence. The woman Rawlins swore that the prisoner met her
at the corner of Russell and Bourke Streets, and had gone with her to
one of the back slums, there to see the writer of the letter. She also
proved that at the time of the committal of the crime the prisoner was
still in the back slum, by the bed of the dying woman, and, there being
only one door to the room, he could not possibly have left without the
witness seeing him. The woman Rawlins further proved that she left the
prisoner at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets at twenty-five
minutes to two o'clock, which was five minutes before Royston drove his
cab up to the St. Kilda Police Station, with the dead body inside.
Finally, the woman Rawlins proved her words by stating that she saw
both the Post Office and Town Hall clocks; and supposing the prisoner
started from the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets, as she says he
did, he would reach East Melbourne in twenty minutes, which made it
five minutes to two on Friday morning, the time at which, according to
the landlady's statement, he entered the house.
All the evidence given by the different witnesses agreed completely,
and formed a chain which showed the whole of the prisoner's movements
at the time of the committal of the murder. Therefore, it was
absolutely impossible that the murder could have been committed by the
man in the dock. The strongest piece of evidence brought forward by the
prosecution was that of the witness Hableton, who swore that the
prisoner used threats against the life of the deceased. But the
language used was merely the outcome of a passionate Irish nature, and
was not sufficient to prove the crime to have been committed by the
prisoner. The defence which the prisoner set up was that of an ALIBI,
and the evidence of the witnesses for the defence proved conclusively
that the prisoner could not, and did not, commit the murder. Finally,
Calton wound up his, elaborate and exhaustive speech, which lasted
for over two hours, by a brilliant peroration, calling upon the
jury to base their verdict upon the plain facts of the case, and if
they did so they could hardly fail in bringing in a verdict of "Not
When Calton sat down a subdued murmur of applause was heard, which was
instantly suppressed, and the judge began to sum up, strongly in favour
of Fitzgerald. The jury then retired, and immediately there was a dead
silence in the crowded Court--an unnatural silence, such as must have
fallen on the blood-loving Roman populace when they saw the Christian
martyrs kneeling on the hot yellow sands of the arena, and watched the
long, lithe forms of lion and panther creeping steadily towards their
prey. The hour being late the gas had been lighted, and there was a
sickly glare through the wide hall.
Fitzgerald had been taken out of court on the retiring of the jury, but
the spectators stared steadily at the empty dock, which seemed to
enchain them by some indescribable fascination. They conversed among
themselves only in whispers, until even the whispering ceased, and
nothing could be heard but the steady ticking of the clock, and now and
then the quick-drawn breath of some timid on-looker. Suddenly, a woman,
whose nerves were over-strung, shrieked, and the cry rang weirdly
through the crowded hall. She was taken out, and again there was
silence, every eye being now fixed on the door through which the jury
would re-issue with their verdict of life or death. The hands of the
clock moved slowly round--a quarter--a half--three quarters--and
then the hour sounded with a silvery ring which startled everyone.
Madge, sitting with her hands tightly clasped together, began to fear
that her highly-strung nerves would give way.
"My God," she muttered softly to herself; "will this suspense never
Just then the door opened, and the jury re-entered. The
prisoner was again placed in the dock, and the judge resumed his seat,
this time with the black cap in his pocket, as everyone guessed.
The usual formalities were gone through, and when the foreman of the
jury stood up every neck was craned forward, and every ear was on the
alert to catch the words that fell from his lips. The prisoner flushed
a little and then grew pale as death, giving a quick, nervous glance at
the quiet figure in black, of which he could just catch a glimpse. Then
came the verdict, sharp and decisive, "NOT GUILTY."
On hearing this a cheer went up from everyone in the court, so strong
was the sympathy with Brian.
In vain the crier of the Court yelled, "Order!" until he was red in the
face. In vain the judge threatened to commit all present for contempt
of court--his voice being inaudible, it did not matter much--the
enthusiasm could not be restrained, and it was five minutes before
order was obtained. The judge, having recovered his composure,
delivered his judgment, and discharged the prisoner, in accordance with
Calton had won many cases, but it is questionable if he had ever heard
a verdict which gave him so much satisfaction as that which proclaimed
And Brian, stepping down from the dock a free man, passed through a
crowd of congratulating friends to a small room off the Court, where a
woman was waiting for him--a woman who clung round his neck, and
"My darling! My darling! I knew that God would save you."
THE "ARGUS" GIVES ITS OPINION.
The morning after the trial was concluded the following article in
reference to the matter appeared in the ARGUS:--
"During the past three months we have frequently in our columns
commented on the extraordinary case which is now so widely known as
'The Hansom Cab Tragedy.' We can safely say that it is the most
remarkable case which has ever come under the notice of our Criminal
Court, and the verdict given by the jury yesterday has enveloped the
matter in a still deeper mystery. By a train of strange coincidences,
Mr. Brian Fitzgerald, a young squatter, was suspected of having
murdered Whyte, and had it not been for the timely appearance of the
woman Rawlins who turned up at the eleventh hour, we feel sure that a
verdict of guilty would have been given, and an innocent man would have
suffered punishment for the crime of another. Fortunately for the
prisoner, and for the interests of justice, his counsel, Mr. Calton, by
unwearied diligence, was able to discover the last witness, and prove
an ALIBI, Had it not been for this, in spite of the remarks made by the
learned counsel in his brilliant speech yesterday, which resulted in
the acquittal of the prisoner, we question very much if the rest of the
evidence in favour of the accused would have been sufficient to
persuade the jury that he was an innocent man. The only points
in favour of Mr. Fitzgerald were the inability of the cabman Royston to
swear to him as the man who had got into the cab with Whyte, the
wearing of a diamond ring on the forefinger of the right hand (whereas
Mr. Fitzgerald wears no rings), and the difference in time sworn to by
the cabman Rankin and the landlady. Against these points, however, the
prosecution placed a mass of evidence, which seemed conclusively to
prove the guilt of the prisoner; but the appearance of Sal Rawlins in
the witness-box put an end to all doubt. In language which could not be
mistaken for anything else than the truth, she positively swore that
Mr. Fitzgerald was in one of the slums off Bourke Street, between the
hours of one and two on Friday morning, at which time the murder was
committed. Under these circumstances, the jury unanimously agreed, and
returned a verdict of 'Not guilty,' and the prisoner was forthwith
acquitted. We have to congratulate his counsel, Mr. Calton, for the
able speech he made for the defence, and also Mr. Fitzgerald, for his
providential escape from a dishonourable and undeserved punishment. He
leaves the court without a stain on his character, and with the respect
and sympathy of all Australians, for the courage and dignity with which
he comported himself throughout, while resting under the shadow of such
a serious charge.
"But now that it has been conclusively proved that he is innocent, the
question arises in every one's mind, 'Who is the murderer of Oliver
Whyte?' The man who committed this dastardly crime is still at large,
and, for all we know, may be in our midst. Emboldened by the impunity
with which he has escaped the hands of justice, he may be walking
securely down our streets, and talking of the very crime of which he is
the perpetrator. Secure in the thought that all traces of him have been
lost for ever, from the time he alighted from Rankin's cab, at
Powlett Street, he has ventured probably to remain in Melbourne, and,
for all that anyone knows, he may have been in the court during the
late trial. Nay, this very article, may meet his eye, and he may
rejoice at the futile efforts which have been made to find him. But let
him beware, Justice is not blind, but blind-folded, and when he least
expects it, she will tear the bandage from her keen eyes, and drag him
forth to the light of day to receive the reward of his deed. Owing to
the strong evidence against Fitzgerald, that is the only direction in
which the detectives have hitherto looked, but baffled on one side,
they will look on the other, and this time may be successful.
"That such a man as the murderer of Oliver Whyte should be at large is
a matter of danger, not only to individual citizens, but to the
community at large; for it is a well-known fact that a tiger who once
tastes human blood never overcomes his craving for it; and, without
doubt the man who so daringly and coolly murdered a drunken, and
therefore defenceless man, will not hesitate to commit a second crime.
The present feeling of all classes in Melbourne must be one of terror,
that such a man should be at large, and must, in a great measure,
resemble the fear which filled everyone's heart in London when the Marr
murders were committed, and it was known that the murderer had escaped.
Anyone who has read De Quincy's graphic description of the crime
perpetrated by Williams must tremble to think that such another devil
incarnate is in our midst. It is an imperative necessity that such a
feeling should be done away with. But how is this to be managed? It is
one thing to speak, and another to act. There seems to be no possible
clue discoverable at present which can lead to the discovery of the
real murderer. The man in the light coat who got out of Rankin's cab at
Powlett Street, East Melbourne (designedly, as it now appears, in order
to throw suspicion on Fitzgerald), has vanished as completely
as the witches in Macbeth, and left no trace behind. It was two o'clock
in the morning when he left the cab, and, in a quiet suburb like East
Melbourne, no one would be about, so that he could easily escape
unseen. There seems to be only one chance of ever tracing him, and that
is to be found in the papers which were stolen from the pocket of the
dead man. What they were, only two persons knew, and one knows now. The
first, two were Whyte and the woman who was called 'The Queen,' and
both of them are now dead. The other who knows now is the man who
committed the crime. There can be no doubt that these papers were the
motive for the crime, as no money was taken from the pockets of the
deceased. The fact, also, that the papers were carried in a pocket made
inside the waistcoat of the deceased shows that they were of value.
"Now, the reason we think that the dead woman knew of the existence of
these papers is simply this. It appears that she came out from England
with Whyte as his mistress, and after staying some time in Sydney came
on to Melbourne. How she came into such a foul and squalid den as that
she died in, we are unable to say, unless, seeing that she was given to
drink, she was picked up drunk by some Samaritan of the slums, and
carried to Mrs. Rawlins' humble abode. Whyte visited her there
frequently, but appears to have made no attempt to remove her to a
better place, alleging as his reason that the doctor said she would die
if taken into the air. Our reporter learned from one of the detectives
that the dead woman was in the habit of talking to Whyte about certain
papers, and on one occasion was overheard to say to him, 'They'll make
your fortune if you play your cards well.' This was told to the
detective by the woman Rawlins, to whose providential appearance Mr.
Fitzgerald owes his escape. From this it can be gathered that the
papers--whatever they might be--were of value, and sufficient
to tempt another to commit a murder in order to obtain them. Whyte,
therefore, being dead, and his murderer having escaped, the only way of
discovering the secret which lies at the root of this tree of crime, is
to find out the history of the woman who died in the slum. Traced back
for some years, circumstances may be discovered which will reveal what
these papers contained, and once that is found, we can confidently say
that the murderer will soon be discovered. This is the only chance of
finding out the cause, and the author of this mysterious murder; and if
it fails, we fear the hansom cab tragedy will have to be relegated to
the list of undiscovered crimes, and the assassin of Whyte will have no
other punishment than that of the remorse of his own conscience."
THREE MONTHS AFTERWARDS.
A hot December day, with a cloudless blue sky, and a sun blazing down
on the earth, clothed in all the beauty of summer garments. Such a
description of snowy December sounds perchance a trifle strange to
English ears. It may strike them as being somewhat fantastic, as was
the play in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," to Demetrius when he remarked,
"This is hot ice and wondrous cold fire."
But here in Australia we are in the realm of contrariety, and many
things other than dreams go by contrary. Here black swans are an
established fact, and the proverb concerning them, made when they were
considered as mythical a bird as the Phoenix, has been rendered null
and void by the discoveries of Captain Cook. Here ironwood sinks and
pumice stone floats, which must strike the curious spectator as a queer
freak on the part of Dame Nature. At home the Edinburgh mail bears the
hardy traveller to a cold climate, with snowy mountains and wintry
blasts; but here the further north one goes the hotter it gets, till
one arrives in Queensland, where the heat is so great that a profane
traveller of an epigrammatic turn of mind once fittingly called it, "An
But however contrary, as Mrs. Gamp would say, Nature may be in
her dealings, the English race out in this great continent are much the
same as in the old country--John Bull, Paddy, and Sandy, all being of
a conservative turn of mind, and with strong opinions as to the keeping
up of old customs. Therefore, on a hot Christmas day, with the sun one
hundred odd in the shade, Australian revellers sit down to the roast
beef and plum-pudding of Old England, which they eat contentedly as the
orthodox thing, and on New Year's Eve the festive Celt repairs to the
doors of his "freends" with a bottle of whisky and a cheering verse of
Auld Lang Syne.
Still it is these peculiar customs that give an individuality to a
nation, and John Bull abroad loses none of his insular obstinacy; but
keeps his Christmas in the old fashion, and wears his clothes in the
new fashion, without regard to heat or cold. A nation that never
surrenders to the fire of an enemy cannot be expected to give in to the
fire of the sun, but if some ingenious mortal would only invent some
light and airy costume, after the fashion of the Greek dress, and
Australians would consent to adopt the same, life in Melbourne and her
sister cities would be much cooler than it is at present.
Madge was thinking somewhat after this fashion as she sat on the wide
verandah, in a state of exhaustion from the heat, and stared out at the
wide plains lying parched and arid under the blazing sun. There was a
dim kind of haze rising from the excessive heat, hanging midway between
heaven and earth, and through its tremulous veil the distant hills
looked aerial and unreal.
Stretched out before her was the garden with its intensely vivid
flowers. To look at them merely was to increase one's caloric
condition. Great bushes of oleanders, with their bright pink
blossoms, luxurious rose trees, with their yellow, red, and white
blooms, and all along the border a rainbow of many-coloured flowers,
with such brilliant tints that the eye ached to see them in the hot
sunshine, and turned restfully to the cool green of the trees which
encircled the lawn. In the centre was a round pool, surrounded by a
ring of white marble, and containing a still sheet of water, which
flashed like a mirror in the blinding light.
The homestead of Yabba Yallook station was a long low house, with no
upper-storey, and with a wide verandah running nearly round it. Cool
green blinds were hung between the pillars to keep out the sun, and all
along were scattered lounging chairs of basket-work, with rugs, novels,
empty soda-water bottles, and all the other evidences that Mr.
Frettlby's guests had been wise, and stayed inside during the noonday
Madge was seated in one of these comfortable chairs, and she divided
her attention between the glowing beauty of the world outside, which
she could see through a narrow slit in the blinds. But she did not seem
greatly interested in her book, and it was not long before she let it
fall unheeded to the ground and took refuge in her own thoughts. The
trial through which she had so recently passed had been a great one,
and it had not been without its outward result. It had left its impress
on her beautiful face, and there was a troubled look in her eyes. After
Brian's acquittal of the murder of Oliver Whyte, she had been taken by
her father up to the station, in the hope that it would restore her to
health. The mental strain which had been on her during the trial had
nearly brought on an attack of brain fever; but here, far from the
excitement of town life, in the quiet seclusion of the country, she had
recovered her health, but not her spirits. Women are more
impressionable than men, and it is, perhaps, for this reason
that they age quicker. A trouble which would pass lightly over a man,
leaves an indelible mark on a woman, both physically and mentally, and
the terrible episode of Whyte's murder had changed Madge from a bright
and merry girl into a grave and beautiful woman. Sorrow is a potent
enchantress. Once she touches the heart, life can never be quite the
same again. We never more surrender ourselves entirely to pleasure; and
often we find so many of the things we have longed for are after all
but dead sea fruit. Sorrow is the veiled Isis of the world, and once we
penetrate her mystery and see her deeply-furrowed face and mournful
eyes, the magic light of romance dies all away, and we realise the hard
bitter fact of life in all its nakedness.
Madge felt something of all this. She saw the world now, not as the
fantastic fairyland of her girlish dreams, but as the sorrowful vale of
tears through which we must all walk till we reach the "Promised Land."
And Brian, he also had undergone a change, for there were a few white
hairs now amid his curly, chestnut locks, and his character, from being
gay and bright, had become moody and irritable. After the trial he had
left town immediately, in order to avoid meeting with his friends, and
had gone up to his station, which was next to that of the Frettlbys'.
There he worked hard all day, and smoked hard all night, thinking ever
the secret which the dead woman had told him, and which threatened to
overshadow his life. Every now and then he rode over and saw Madge. But
this was generally when he knew her father to be away from Melbourne,
for of late he had disliked the millionaire. Madge could not but
condemn his attitude, remembering how her father had stood beside him
in his recent trouble. Yet there was another reason why Brian kept
aloof from Yabba Yallook station. He did not wish to meet any of the
gay society which was there, knowing that since his trial he
was an object of curiosity and sympathy to everyone--a position
galling enough to his proud nature.
At Christmas time Mr. Frettlby had asked several people up from
Melbourne, and though Madge would rather have been left alone, yet she
could not refuse her father, and had to play hostess with a smiling
brow and aching heart.
Felix Rolleston, who a month since had joined the noble army of
benedicts, was there with Mrs. Rolleston, NEE Miss Featherweight, who
ruled him with a rod of iron. Having bought Felix with her money, she
had determined to make good use of him, and, being ambitious to shine
in Melbourne society, had insisted upon Felix studying politics, so
that when the next general election came round he could enter
Parliament. Felix had rebelled at first, but ultimately gave way, as he
found that when he had a good novel concealed among his parliamentary
papers time passed quite pleasantly, and he got the reputation of a
hard worker at little cost. They had brought up Julia with them, and
this young person had made up her mind to become the second Mrs.
Frettlby. She had not received much encouragement, but, like the
English at Waterloo, did not know when she was beaten, and carried on
the siege of Mr. Frettlby's heart in an undaunted manner.
Dr. Chinston had come up for a little relaxation, and gave never a
thought to his anxious patients or the many sick-rooms he was in the
habit of visiting. A young English fellow, called Peterson, who amused
himself by travelling; an old colonist, full of reminiscences of the
old days, when, "by gad, sir, we hadn't a gas lamp in the whole of
Melbourne," and several other people, completed the party. They had all
gone off to the billiard-room, and left Madge in her comfortable chair,
Suddenly she started, as she heard a step behind her, and
turning, saw Sal Rawlins, in the neatest of black gowns, with a
coquettish white cap and apron, and an open book. Madge had been so
delighted with Sal for saving Brian's life that she had taken her into
her service as maid. Mr. Frettlby had offered strong opposition at
first that a fallen woman like Sal should be near his daughter; but
Madge was determined to rescue the unhappy girl from the life of sin
she was leading, and so at last he reluctantly consented. Brian, too,
had objected, but ultimately yielded, as he saw that Madge had set her
heart on it. Mother Guttersnipe objected at first, characterising the
whole affair as "cussed 'umbug," but she, likewise, gave in, and Sal
became maid to Miss Frettlby, who immediately set to work to remedy
Sal's defective education by teaching her to read. The book she held in
her hand was a spelling-book, and this she handed to Madge.
"I think I knows it now, miss," she said, respectfully, as Madge looked
up with a smile.
"Do you, indeed?" said Madge, gaily. "You will be able to read in no
"Read this?" said Sal, touching "Tristan: A Romance, by Zoe."
"Hardly!" said Madge, picking it up, with a look of contempt.
"I want you to learn English, and not a confusion of tongues like this
thing. But it's too hot for lessons, Sal," she went on, leaning back in
her seat, "so get a chair and talk to me."
Sal complied, and Madge looked out at the brilliant flower-beds, and at
the black shadow of the tall witch elm which grew on one side of the
lawn. She wanted to ask a certain question of Sal, and did not know how
to do it. The moodiness and irritability of Brian had troubled her very
much of late, and, with the quick instinct of her sex, she
ascribed it indirectly to the woman who had died in the back slum.
Anxious to share his troubles and lighten his burden, she determined to
ask Sal about this mysterious woman, and find out, if possible, what
secret had been told to Brian which affected him so deeply.
"Sal," she said, after a short pause, turning her clear grey eyes on
the woman, "I want to ask you something."
The other shivered and turned pale.
Sal hesitated for a moment, and then flung herself at the feet of her
"I will tell you," she cried. "You have been kind to me, an' have a
right to know. I will tell you all I know."
"Then," asked Madge, firmly, as she clasped her. hands tightly
together, "who was this woman whom Mr. Fitzgerald went to see, and
where did she come from?"
"Gran' an' me found her one evenin' in Little Bourke Street," answered
Sal, "just near the theatre. She was quite drunk, an' we took her home
"How kind of you," said Madge.
"Oh, it wasn't that," replied the other, dryly. "Gran' wanted her
clothes; she was awful swell dressed."
"And she took the clothes--how wicked!"
"Anyone would have done it down our way," answered Sal, indifferently;
"but Gran' changed her mind when she got her home. I went out to get
some gin for Gran', and when I came back she was huggin' and kissin'
"She recognised her."
"Yes, I s'pose so," replied Sal, "an' next mornin', when the lady got
square, she made a grab at Gran', an' hollered out, 'I was comin' to
"Gran' chucked me out of the room, an' they had a long jaw; and then,
when I come back, Gran' tells me the lady is a-goin' to stay with us
'cause she was ill, and sent me for Mr. Whyte."
"And he came?"
"Oh, yes--often," said Sal. "He kicked up a row when he first turned
up, but when he found she was ill, he sent a doctor; but it warn't no
good. She was two weeks with us, and then died the mornin' she saw Mr.
"I suppose Mr. Whyte was in the habit of talking to this woman?"
"Lots," returned Sal; "but he always turned Gran' an' me out of the
room afore he started."
"And"--hesitating--"did you ever overhear one of these
"Yes--one," answered the other, with a nod. "I got riled at the way he
cleared us out of our own room; and once, when he shut the door and
Gran' went off to get some gin, I sat down at the door and listened. He
wanted her to give up some papers, an' she wouldn't. She said she'd die
first; but at last he got 'em, and took 'em away with him."
"Did you see them?" asked Madge, as the assertion of Gorby that Whyte
had been murdered for certain papers flashed across her mind.
"Rather," said Sal, "I was looking through a hole in the door, an' she
takes 'em from under her piller, an' 'e takes 'em to the table, where
the candle was, an' looks at 'em--they were in a large blue envelop,
with writing on it in red ink--then he put 'em in his pocket, and she
sings out: 'You'll lose 'em,' an' 'e says: 'No, I'll always 'ave 'em
with me, an' if 'e wants 'em 'e'll have to kill me fust afore 'e gits
"And you did not know who the man was to whom the papers were
of such importance?"
"No, I didn't; they never said no names."
"And when was it Whyte got the papers?"
"About a week before he was murdered," said Sal, after a moment's
thought. "An' after that he never turned up again. She kept watchin'
for him night an' day, an' 'cause he didn't come, got mad at him. I
hear her sayin', 'You think you've done with me, my gentleman, an'
leaves me here to die, but I'll spoil your little game,' an' then she
wrote that letter to Mr. Fitzgerald, an' I brought him to her, as you
"Yes, yes," said Madge, rather impatiently. "I heard all that at the
trial, but what conversation passed between Mr. Fitzgerald and this
woman? Did you hear it?"
"Bits of it," replied the other. "I didn't split in Court, 'cause I
thought the lawyer would be down on me for listening. The first thing I
heard Mr. Fitzgerald sayin' was, 'You're mad--it ain't true,' an' she
ses, 'S'elp me it is, Whyte's got the proof,' an' then he sings out,
'My poor girl,' and she ses, 'Will you marry her now?' and ses he, 'I
will, I love her more than ever;' and then she makes a grab at him, and
says, 'Spile his game if you can,' and says he, 'What's yer name?' and
"What?" asked Madge, breathlessly.
There was a sharp exclamation as Sal said the name, and, turning round
quickly, Madge found Brian standing beside her, pale as death, with his
eyes fixed on the woman, who had risen to her feet.
"Go on!" he said sharply.
"That's all I know," she replied, in a sullen tone. Brian gave a sigh
"You can go," he said slowly; "I wish to speak with Miss
Sal looked at him for a moment, and then glanced at her mistress, who
nodded to her as a sign that she might withdraw. She picked up her
book, and with another sharp enquiring look at Brian, turned and walked
slowly into the house.
A DAUGHTER OF EVE.
After Sal had gone, Brian sank into a chair beside Madge with a weary
sigh. He was in riding dress, which became his stalwart figure well,
and he looked remarkably handsome but ill and worried.
"What on earth were you questioning that girl about?" he said abruptly,
taking his hat off, and tossing it and his gloves on to the floor.
Madge flushed crimson for a moment, and then taking Brian's two strong
hands in her own, looked steadily into his frowning face.
"Why don't you trust me?" she asked, in a quiet tone.
"It is not necessary that I should," he answered moodily. "The secret
that Rosanna Moore told me on her death-bed is nothing that would
benefit you to know."
"Is it about me?" she persisted.
"It is, and it is not," he answered, epigrammatically.
"I suppose that means that it is about a third person, and concerns
me," she said calmly, releasing his hands.
"Well, yes," impatiently striking his boot with his riding whip. "But
it is nothing that can harm you so long as you do not know it; but God
help you should anyone tell it to you, for it would embitter your
"My life being so very sweet now," answered Madge, with a
slight sneer. "You are trying to put out a fire by pouring oil on it,
and what you say only makes me more determined to learn what it is."
"Madge, I implore you not to persist in this foolish curiosity," he
said, almost fiercely, "it will bring you only misery."
"If it concerns me I have a right to know it," she answered curtly.
"When I marry you how can we be happy together, with the shadow of a
secret between us?"
Brian rose, and leaned against the verandah post with a dark frown on
"Do you remember that verse of Browning's," he said, coolly--
'Where the apple reddens
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.'
"Singularly applicable to our present conversation, I think."
"Ah," she said, her pale face flushing with anger, "you want me to live
in a fool's paradise, which may end at any moment."
"That depends upon yourself," he answered coldly. "I never roused your
curiosity by telling you that there was a secret, but betrayed it
inadvertently to Calton's cross-questioning. I tell you candidly that I
did learn something from Rosanna Moore, and it concerns you, though
only indirectly through a third person. But it would do no good to
reveal it, and would ruin both our lives."
She did not answer, but looked straight before her into the glowing
Brian fell on his knees beside her, and stretched out his hands with an
"Oh, my darling," he cried sadly, "cannot you trust me? The
love which has stood such a test as yours cannot fail like this. Let me
bear the misery of knowing it alone, without blighting your young life
with the knowledge of it. I would tell you if I could, but, God help
me, I cannot--I cannot," and he buried his face in his hands.
Madge closed her mouth firmly, and touched his comely head with her
cool, white fingers. There was a struggle going on in her breast
between her feminine curiosity and her love for the man at her feet--the
latter conquered, and she bowed her head over his.
"Brian," she whispered softly, "let it be as you wish. I will never
again try to learn this secret, since you do not desire it."
He arose to his feet, and caught her in his strong arms, with a glad
"My dearest," he said, kissing her passionately, and then for a few
moments neither of them spoke. "We will begin a new life," he said, at
length. "We will put the sad past away from us, and think of it only as
"But this secret will still fret you," she murmured.
"It will wear away with time and with change of scene," he answered
"Change of scene!" she repeated in a startled tone. "Are you going
"Yes; I have sold my station, and intend leaving Australia for ever
during the next three months."
"And where are you going?" asked the girl, rather bewildered.
"Anywhere," he said a little bitterly. "I am going to follow the
example of Cain, and be a wanderer on the face of the earth!"
"That is what I have come to see you about," said Brian,
looking steadily at her. "I have come to ask you if you will marry me
at once, and we will leave Australia together."
"I know it is asking a great deal," he said, hurriedly, "to leave your
friends, your position, and"--with hesitation--"your father; but
think of my life without you--think how lonely I shall be, wandering
round the world by myself; but you will not desert me now I have so
much need of you--you will come with me and be my good angel in the
future as you have been in the past?"
She put her hand on his arm, and looking at him with her clear, grey
"Thank God for that," said Brian, reverently, and there was again a
Then they sat down and talked about their plans, and built castles in
the air, after the fashion of lovers.
"I wonder what papa will say?" observed Madge, idly twisting her
engagement ring round and round.
Brian frowned, and a dark look passed over his face.
"I suppose I must speak to him about it?" he said at length,
"Yes, of course!" she replied, lightly. "It is merely a formality;
still, one that must be observed."
"And where is Mr. Frettlby?" asked Fitzgerald, rising.
"In the billiard-room," she answered, as she followed his example.
"No!" she continued, as she saw her father step on to the verandah.
"Here he is."
Brian had not seen Mark Frettlby for some time, and was astonished at
the change which had taken place in his appearance. Formerly, he had
been as straight as an arrow, with a stern, fresh-coloured face; but
now he had a slight stoop, and his face looked old and withered. His
thick, black hair was streaked here and there with white. His
eyes alone were unchanged. They were as keen and bright as ever. Brian
knew full well how he himself had altered. He knew, too, that Madge was
not the same, and now he could not but wonder whether the great change
that was apparent in her father was attributable to the same source--to
the murder of Oliver Whyte.
Sad and thoughtful as Mr. Frettlby looked, as he came along, a smile
broke over his face as he caught sight of his, daughter.
"My dear Fitzgerald," he said, holding out his hand, "this is indeed a
surprise! When did you come over?"
"About half-an-hour ago," replied Brian, reluctantly, taking the
extended hand of the millionaire. "I came to see Madge, and have a talk
"Ah! that's right," said the other, putting his arm round his
daughter's waist. "So that's what has brought the roses to your face,
young lady?" he went on, pinching her cheek playfully. "You will stay
to dinner, of course, Fitzgerald?"
"Thank you, no!" answered Brian, hastily, "my dress--"
"Nonsense," interrupted Frettlby, hospitably; "we are not in Melbourne,
and I am sure Madge will excuse your dress. You must stay."
"Yes, do," said Madge, in a beseeching tone, touching his hand lightly.
"I don't see so much of you that I can let you off with half-an-hour's
Brian seemed to be making a violent effort.
"Very well," he said in a low voice; "I shall stay."
"And now," said Frettlby, in a brisk tone, as he sat down; "the
important question of dinner being settled, what is it you want to see
me about?--Your station?"
"No," answered Brian, leaning against the verandah post, while Madge
slipped her hand through his arm. "I have sold it."
"Sold it!" echoed Frettlby, aghast. "What for?"
"I felt restless, and wanted a change."
"Ah! a rolling stone," said the millionaire, shaking his head, "gathers
no moss, you know."
"Stones don't roll of their own accord," replied Brian, in a gloomy
tone. "They are impelled by a force over which they have no control."
"Oh, indeed!" said the millionaire, in a joking tone. "And may I ask
what is your propelling force?"
Brian looked at the man's face with such a steady gaze that the
latter's eyes dropped after an uneasy attempt to return it.
"Well," he said impatiently, looking at the two tall young people
standing before him, "what do you want to see me about?"
"Madge has agreed to marry me at once, and I want your consent."
"Impossible!" said Frettlby, curtly.
"There is no such a word as impossible," retorted Brian, coolly,
thinking of the famous remark in RICHELIEU, "Why should you refuse? I
am rich now."
"Pshaw!" said Frettlby, rising impatiently. "It's not money I'm
thinking about--I've got enough for both of you; but I cannot live
"Then come with us," said his daughter, kissing him.
Her lover, however, did not second the invitation, but stood moodily
twisting his tawny moustache, and staring out into the garden in an
absent sort of manner.
"What do you say, Fitzgerald?" said Frettlby, who was eyeing him
"Oh, delighted, of course," answered Brian, confusedly.
"In that case," returned the other, coolly, "I will tell you what we
will do. I have bought a steam yacht, and she will be ready for sea
about the end of January. You will marry my daughter at once,
and go round New Zealand for your honeymoon. When you return, if I feel
inclined, and you two turtle-doves don't object, I will join you, and
we will make a tour of the world."
"Oh, how delightful," cried Madge, clasping her hands. "I am so fond of
the ocean with a companion, of course," she added, with a saucy glance
at her lover.
Brian's face had brightened considerably, for he was a born sailor, and
a pleasant yachting voyage in the blue waters of the Pacific, with
Madge as his companion, was, to his mind, as near Paradise as any
mortal could get.
"And what is, the name of the yacht?" he asked, with deep interest.
"Her name?" repeated Mr. Frettlby, hastily. "Oh, a very ugly name, and
one which I intend to change. At present she is called the 'Rosanna.'"
Brian and his betrothed both started at this, and the former stared
curiously at the old man, wondering at the coincidence between the name
of the yacht and that of the woman who died in the Melbourne slum.
Mr Frettlby flushed a little when he saw Brian's eye fixed on him with
such an enquiring gaze, and rose with an embarrassed laugh.
"You are a pair of moon-struck lovers," he said, gaily, taking an arm
of each, and leading them into the house "but you forget dinner will
soon be ready."
ACROSS THE WALNUTS AND THE WINE.
Moore, sweetest of bards, sings--
"Oh, there's nothing half so sweet in life
As love's young dream."
But he made this assertion in his callow days, before he had learned
the value of a good digestion. To a young and fervid youth, love's
young dream is, no doubt, very charming, lovers, as a rule, having a
small appetite; but to a man who has seen the world, and drunk deeply
of the wine of life, there is nothing half so sweet in the whole of his
existence as a good dinner. "A hard heart and a good digestion will
make any man happy." So said Talleyrand, a cynic if you like, but a man
who knew the temper of his day and generation. Ovid wrote about the art
of love--Brillat Savarin, of the art of dining; yet, I warrant you,
the gastronomical treatise of the brilliant Frenchman is more widely
read than the passionate songs of the Roman poet. Who does not value as
the sweetest in the whole twenty-four the hour when, seated at an
artistically-laid table, with delicately-cooked viands, good wines, and
pleasant company, all the cares and worries of the day give place to a
delightful sense of absolute enjoyment? Dinner with the English
people is generally a very dreary affair, and there is a heaviness
about the whole thing which communicates itself to the guests, who eat
and drink with a solemn persistence, as though they were occupied in
fulfilling some sacred rite. But there are men--alas! few and far
between--who possess the rare art of giving good dinners--good in the
sense of sociality as well as in that of cookery.
Mark Frettlby was one of these rare individuals--he had an innate
genius for getting pleasant people together--people, who, so to speak,
dovetailed into one another. He had an excellent cook, and his wines
were irreproachable, so that Brian, in spite of his worries, was glad
that he had accepted the invitation. The bright gleam of the silver,
the glitter of glass, and the perfume of flowers, all collected under
the subdued crimson glow of a pink-shaded lamp, which hung from the
ceiling, could not but give him a pleasurable sensation.
On one side of the dining-room were the French windows opening on to
the verandah, and beyond appeared the vivid green of the trees, and the
dazzling colours of the flowers, somewhat tempered by the soft hazy
glow of the twilight.
Brian had made himself as respectable as possible under the odd
circumstances of dining in his riding-dress, and sat next to Madge,
contentedly sipping his wine, and listening to the pleasant chatter
which was going on around him.
Felix Rolleston was in great spirits, the more so as Mrs Rolleston was
at the further end of the table, hidden from his view.
Julia Featherweight sat near Mr. Frettlby, and chatted to him so
persistently that he wished she would become possessed of a dumb devil.
Dr. Chinston and Peterson were seated on the other side of the
table, and the old colonist, whose name was Valpy, had the post of
honour, on Mr. Frettlby's right hand.
The conversation had turned on to the subject, ever green and
fascinating, of politics, and Mr. Rolleston thought it a good
opportunity to air his views as to the Government of the Colony, and to
show his wife that he really meant to obey her wish, and become a power
in the political world.
"By Jove, you know," he said, with a wave of his hand, as though he
were addressing the House; "the country is going to the dogs, and all
that sort of thing. What we want is a man like Beaconsfield."
"Ah! but you can't pick up a man like that every day," said Frettlby,
who was listening with an amused smile to Rolleston's disquisitions.
"Rather a good thing, too," observed Dr. Chinston, dryly.
"Genius would become too common."
"Well, when I am elected," said Felix, who had his own views, which
modesty forbade him to publish, on the subject of the coming colonial
Disraeli, "I probably shall form a party."
"To advocate what?" asked Peterson, curiously.
"Oh, well, you see," hesitated Felix, "I haven't drawn up a programme
yet, so can't say at present."
"Yes, you can hardly give a performance without a programme," said the
doctor, taking a sip of wine, and then everybody laughed.
"And on what are your political opinions founded?" asked Mr. Frettlby,
absently, without looking at Felix.
"Oh, you see, I've read the Parliamentary reports and Constitutional
history, and--and Vivian Grey," said Felix, who began to feel himself
somewhat at sea.
"The last of which is what the author called it, a LUSUS NATURAE,"
observed Chinston. "Don't erect your political schemes on such
bubble foundations as are in that novel, for you won't find a Marquis
Carabas out here."
"Unfortunately, no!" observed Felix, mournfully; "but we may find a
Every one smothered a smile, the allusion was so patent.
"Well, he didn't succeed in the end," cried Peterson.
"Of course he didn't," retorted Felix, disdainfully; "he made an enemy
of a woman, and a man who is such a fool as to do that deserves to
"You have an excellent opinion of our sex, Mr. Rolleston," said Madge,
with a wicked glance at the wife of that gentleman, who was listening
complacently to her husband's aimless chatter.
"No better than they deserve," replied Rolleston, gallantly.
"But you have never gone in for politics, Mr. Frettlby?"
"Who?--I--no," said the host, rousing himself out of the brown study
into which he had fallen. "I'm afraid I'm not sufficiently patriotic,
and my business did not permit me."
"Now," echoed Mr. Frettlby, glancing at his daughter, "I intend to
"The jolliest thing out," said Peterson, eagerly. "One never gets tired
of seeing the queer things that are in the world."
"I've seen queer enough things in Melbourne in the early days," said
the old colonist, with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.
"Oh!" cried Julia, putting her hands up to her ears, "don't tell me
them, for I'm sure they're naughty."
"We weren't saints then," said old Valpy, with a senile chuckle.
"Ah, then, we haven't changed much in that respect," retorted Frettlby,
"You talk of your theatres now," went on Valpy, with the
garrulousness of old age; "why, you haven't got a dancer like Rosanna."
Brian started on hearing this name again, and he felt Madge's cold hand
"And who was Rosanna?" asked Felix, curiously, looking up.
"A dancer and burlesque actress," replied Valpy, vivaciously, nodding
his old head. "Such a beauty; we were all mad about her--such hair and
eyes. You remember her, Frettlby?"
"Yes," answered the host, in a curiously dry voice.
But before Mr. Valpy had the opportunity to wax more eloquent, Madge
rose from the table, and the other ladies followed. The ever polite
Felix held the door open for them, and received a bright smile from his
wife for, what she considered, his brilliant talk at the dinner table.
Brian sat still, and wondered why Frettlby changed colour on hearing
the name--he supposed that the millionaire had been mixed up with the
actress, and did not care about being reminded of his early
indiscretions--and, after all, who does?
"She was as light as a fairy," continued Valpy, with wicked chuckle.
"What became of her?" asked Brian, abruptly.
Mark Frettlby looked up suddenly, as Fitzgerald asked this question.
"She went to England in 1858," said the aged one. "I'm not quite sure
if it was July or August, but it was in 1858."
"You will excuse me, Valpy, but I hardly think that these reminiscences
of a ballet-dancer are amusing," said Frettlby, curtly, pouring himself
out a glass of wine. "Let us change the subject."
Notwithstanding the plainly-expressed wish of his host Brian
felt strongly inclined to pursue the conversation. Politeness, however,
forbade such a thing, and he consoled himself with the reflection that,
after dinner, he would ask old Valpy about the ballet-dancer whose name
caused Mark Frettlby to exhibit such strong emotion. But, to his
annoyance, when the gentlemen went into the drawing-room, Frettlby took
the old colonist off to his study, where he sat with him the whole
evening talking over old times.
Fitzgerald found Madge seated at the piano in the drawing-room playing
one of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words.
"What a dismal thing that is you are playing, Madge," he said lightly,
as he sank into a seat beside her. "It is more like a funeral march
than anything else."
"Gad, so it is," said Felix, who came up at this moment. "I don't care
myself about 'Op. 84' and all that classical humbug. Give me something
light--'Belle Helene,' with Emelie Melville, and all that sort of
"Felix!" said his wife, in a stern tone.
"My dear," he answered recklessly, rendered bold by the champagne he
had taken, "you observed--"
"Nothing particular," answered Mrs. Rolleston, glancing at him with a
stony eye, "except that I consider Offenbach low."
"I don't," said Felix, sitting down to the piano, from which Madge had
just risen, "and to prove he ain't, here goes."
He ran his fingers lightly over the keys, and dashed into a brilliant
Offenbach galop, which had the effect of waking up the people in the
drawing-room, who felt sleepy after dinner, and sent the blood tingling
through their veins. When they were thoroughly roused, Felix, now that
he had an appreciative audience, for he was by no means an individual
who believed in wasting his sweetness on the desert air, prepared to
"You haven't heard the last new song by Frosti, have you?" he
asked, after he had brought his galop to a conclusion.
"Is that the composer of 'Inasmuch' and 'How so?'" asked Julia,
clasping her hands. "I do love his music, and the words are so sweetly
"Infernally stupid, she means," whispered Peterson to Brian. "They've
no more meaning in them than the titles."
"Sing us the new song, Felix," commanded his wife, and her obedient
husband obeyed her.
It was entitled, "Somewhere," words by Vashti, music by Paola Frosti,
and was one of those extraordinary compositions which may mean
anything--that is, if the meaning can be discovered. Felix had a pleasant
voice, though it was not very strong, and the music was pretty, while
the words were mystical. The first verse was as follows:--
"A flying cloud, a breaking wave,
A faint light in a moonless sky:
A voice that from the silent grave
Sounds sad in one long bitter cry.
I know not, sweet, where you may stand,
With shining eyes and golden hair,
Yet I know, I will touch your hand
And kiss your lips somewhere--
When the summer sun is fair,
Waiting me, on land or sea,
Somewhere, love, somewhere!"
The second verse was very similar to the first, and when Felix finished
a murmur of applause broke from every one of the ladies.
"How sweetly pretty," sighed Julia. "Such a lot in it."
"But what is its meaning?" asked Brian, rather bewildered.
"It hasn't got one," replied Felix, complacently. "Surely you
don't want every song to have a moral, like a book of Aesop's Fables?"
Brian shrugged his shoulders, and turned away with Madge.
"I must say I agree with Fitzgerald," said the doctor, quickly. "I like
as song with some meaning in it. The poetry of the one you sang is as
mystical as Browning, without any of his genius to redeem it."
"Philistine," murmured Felix, under his breath, and then vacated his
seat at the piano in favour of Julia, who was about to sing a ballad
called, "Going Down the Hill," which had been the rage in Melbourne
musical circles during the last two months.
Meanwhile Madge and Brian were walking up and down in the moonlight. It
was an exquisite night, with a cloudless blue sky glittering with the
stars, and a great yellow moon in the west. Madge seated herself on the
side of the marble ledge which girdled the still pool of water in front
of the house, and dipped her hand into the cool water. Brian leaned
against the trunk of a great magnolia tree, whose glossy green leaves
and great creamy blossoms looked fantastic in the moonlight. In front
of them was the house, with the ruddy lamplight streaming through the
wide windows, and they could see the guests within, excited by the
music, waltzing to Rolleston's playing, and their dark figures kept
passing and re-passing the windows while the charming music of the
waltz mingled with their merry laughter.
"Looks like a haunted house," said Brian, thinking of Poe's weird
poem; "but such a thing is impossible out here."
"I don't know so much about that," said Madge, gravely, lifting up some
water in the palm of her hand, and letting it stream back like diamonds
in the moonlight. "I knew a house in St. Kilda which was haunted."
"By what?" asked Brian, sceptically.
"Noises!" she answered, solemnly.
Brian burst out laughing and startled a bat, which fleur round and
round in the silver moonlight, and whirred away into the shelter of a
"Rats and mice are more common here than ghosts," he said, lightly.
"I'm afraid the inhabitants of your haunted house were fanciful."
"So you don't believe in ghosts?"
"There's a Banshee in our family," said Brian, with a gay smile, "who
is supposed to cheer our death beds with her howlings; but as I've
never seen the lady myself, I'm afraid she's a Mrs. Harris."
"It's aristocratic to have a ghost in a family, I believe," said Madge;
"that is the reason we colonials have none."
"Ah, but you will have," he answered with a careless laugh. "There are,
no doubt, democratic as well as aristocratic ghosts; but, pshaw!" he
went on, impatiently, "what nonsense I talk. There are no ghosts,
except of a man's own raising. The ghosts of a dead youth--the ghosts
of past follies--the ghosts of what might have been--these are the
spectres which are more to be feared than those of the churchyard."
Madge looked at him in silence, for she understood the meaning of that
passionate outburst--the secret which the dead woman had told him, and
which hung like a shadow over his life. She arose quietly and took his
arm. The light touch roused him, and a faint wind sent an eerie rustle
through the still leaves of the magnolia, as they walked back in
silence to the house.
XXIV. BRIAN RECEIVES A LETTER.
Notwithstanding the hospitable invitation of Mr. Frettlby, Brian
refused to stay at Yabba Yallook that night, but after saying good-bye
to Madge, mounted his horse and rode slowly away in the moonlight. He
felt very happy, and letting the reins lie on his horse's neck, he gave
himself up unreservedly to his thoughts. ATRA CURA certainly did not
sit behind the horseman on this night; and Brian, to his surprise,
found himself singing "Kitty of Coleraine," as he rode along in the
silver moonlight. And was he not right to sing when the future seemed
so bright and pleasant? Oh, yes! they would live on the ocean, and she
would find how much pleasanter it was on the restless waters, with
their solemn sense of mystery, than on the crowded land.
"Was not the sea
Made for the free--
Land for courts and slaves alone?"
Moore was perfectly right. She would learn that when with a fair wind,
and all sail set, they were flying over the blue Pacific waters.
And then they would go home to Ireland to the ancestral home of the
Fitzgeralds, where he would lead her in under the arch, with
"CEAD MILLE FAILTHE" on it, and everyone would bless the fair young
bride. Why should he trouble himself about the crime of another? No! He
had made a resolve. and intended to keep it; he would put this secret
with which he had been entrusted behind his back, and would wander
about the world with Madge and--her father. He felt a sudden chill
come over him as he murmured the last words to himself "her father."
"I'm a fool," he said, impatiently, as he gathered up the reins, and
spurred his horse into a canter. "It can make no difference to me so
long as Madge remains ignorant; but to sit beside him, to eat with him,
to have him always present like a skeleton at a feast--God help me!"
He urged his horse into a gallop, and as he rushed over the turf, with
the fresh, cool night wind blowing keenly against his face, he felt a
sense of relief, as though he were leaving some dark spectre behind. On
he galloped, with the blood throbbing in his young veins, over miles of
plain, with the dark-blue, star-studded sky above, and the pale moon
shining down on him--past a silent shepherd's hut, which stood near a
wide creek; splashing through the cool water, which wound through the
dark plain like a thread of silver in the moonlight--then, again, the
wide, grassy plain, dotted here and there with tall clumps of shadowy
trees, and on either side he could see the sheep skurrying away like
fantastic spectres--on--on--ever on, until his own homestead
appears, and he sees the star-like light shining brightly in the
distance--a long avenue of tall trees, over whose wavering shadows his
horse thundered, and then the wide grassy space in front of the house,
with the clamorous barking of dogs. A groom, roused by the clatter of
hoofs up the avenue, comes round the side of the house, and Brian leaps
off his horse, and flinging the reins to the man, walks into his own
room. There he finds a lighted lamp, brandy and soda on the
table, and a packet of letters and newspapers. He flung his hat on the
sofa, and opened the window and door, so as to let in the cool breeze;
then mixing for himself a glass of brandy and soda, he turned up the
lamp, and prepared to read his letters. The first he took up was from a
lady. "Always a she correspondent for me," says Isaac Disraeli,
"provided she does not cross." Brian's correspondence did not cross,
but notwithstanding this, after reading half a page of small talk and
scandal, he flung the letter on the table with an impatient
ejaculation. The other letters were principally business ones, but the
last one proved to be from Calton, and Fitzgerald opened it with a
sensation of pleasure. Calton was a capital letter-writer, and his
epistles had done much to cheer Fitzgerald in the dismal period which
succeeded his acquittal of Whyte's murder, when he was in danger of
getting into a morbid state of mind. Brian, therefore, sipped his
brandy and soda, and, lying back in his chair, prepared to enjoy
"My dear Fitzgerald," wrote Calton his peculiarly clear handwriting,
which was such an exception to the usual crabbed hieroglyphics of his
brethren of the bar, "while you are enjoying the cool breezes and
delightful freshness of the country, here am I, with numerous other
poor devils, cooped up in this hot and dusty city. How I wish I were
with you in the land of Goschen, by the rolling waters of the Murray,
where everything is bright and green, and unsophisticated--the two
latter terms are almost identical--instead of which my view is bounded
by bricks and mortar, and the muddy waters of the Yarra have to do duty
for your noble river. Ah! I too have lived in Arcadia, but I don't now:
and even if some power gave me the choice to go back again, I am not
sure that I would accept. Arcadia, after all, is a lotus-eating
Paradise of blissful ignorance, and I love the world with its pomps,
vanities, and wickedness. While you, therefore, oh Corydon--don't
be afraid, I'm not going to quote Virgil--are studying Nature's
book, I am deep in the musty leaves of Themis' volume, but I dare say
that the great mother teaches you much better things than her
artificial daughter does me. However, you remember that pithy proverb,
'When one is in Rome, one must not speak ill of the Pope,' so being in
the legal profession, I must respect its muse. I suppose when you saw
that this letter came from a law office, you wondered what the deuce a
lawyer was writing to you for, and my handwriting, no doubt suggested a
writ--pshaw! I am wrong there, you are past the age of writs--not
that I hint that you are old; by no means--you are just at that
appreciative age when a man enjoys life most, when the fire of youth is
tempered by the experience of age, and one knows how to enjoy to the
utmost the good things of this world, videlicet--love, wine, and
friendship. I am afraid I am growing poetical, which is a bad thing for
a lawyer, for the flower of poetry cannot flourish in the arid wastes
of the law. On reading what I have written, I find I have been as
discursive as Praed's Vicar, and as this letter is supposed to be a
business one, I must deny myself the luxury of following out a train of
idle ideas, and write sense. I suppose you still hold the secret which
Rosanna Moore entrusted you with--ah! you see I know her name, and
why?--simply because, with the natural curiosity of the human race, I
have been trying to find out who murdered Oliver Whyte, and as the
ARGUS very cleverly pointed out Rosanna Moore as likely to be at the
bottom of the whole affair, I have been learning her past history. The
secret of Whyte's murder, and the reason for it, is known to you, but
you refuse, even in the interests of justice, to reveal it--why, I
don't know; but we all have our little faults, and from an amiable
though mistaken sense of--shall I say--duty?--you refuse to
deliver up the man whose cowardly crime so nearly cost you your life.
"After your departure from Melbourne every one said, 'The hansom cab
tragedy is at an end, and the murderer will never be discovered.' I
ventured to disagree with the wiseacres who made such a remark, and
asked myself, 'Who was this woman who died at Mother Guttersnipe's?'
Receiving no satisfactory answer from myself, I determined to find out,
and took steps accordingly. In the first place, I learned from Roger
Moreland, who, if you remember, was a witness against you at the trial,
that Whyte and Rosanna Moore had come out to Sydney in the JOHN ELDER
about a year ago as Mr. and Mrs. Whyte. I need hardly say that they did
not think it needful to go through the formality of marriage, as such a
tie might have been found inconvenient on some future occasion.
Moreland knew nothing about Rosanna Moore, and advised me to give up
the search, as, coming from a city like London, it would be difficult
to find anyone that knew her there. Notwithstanding this, I telegraphed
home to a friend of mine, who is a bit of an amateur detective, 'Find
out the name and all about the woman who left England in the JOHN ELDER
on the 21st day of August, 18--, as wife of Oliver Whyte.' MIRABILE
DICTU, he found out all about her, and knowing, as you do, what a
maelstrom of humanity London is, you must admit my friend was clever.
It appears, however, that the task I set him was easier than he
expected, for the so-called Mrs. Whyte was rather a notorious
individual in her own way. She was a burlesque actress at the Frivolity
Theatre in London, and, being a very handsome woman, had been
photographed innumerable times. Consequently, when she very foolishly
went with Whyte to choose a berth on board the boat, she was recognised
by the clerks in the office as Rosanna Moore, better known as Musette
of the Frivolity. Why she ran away with Whyte I cannot tell
you. With reference to men understanding women, I refer you to Balzac's
remark anent the same. Perhaps Musette got weary of St. John's Wood and
champagne suppers, and longed for the purer air of her native land. Ah!
you open your eyes at this latter statement--you are surprised--no,
on second thoughts you are not, because she told you herself that she
was a native of Sydney, and had gone home in 1858, after a triumphant
career of acting in Melbourne. And why did she leave the applauding
Melbourne public and the flesh-pots of Egypt? You know this also. She
ran away with a rich young squatter, with more money than morals, who
happened to be in Melbourne at the time. She seems to have had a
weakness for running away. But why she chose Whyte to go with this time
puzzles me. He was not rich, not particularly good-looking, had no
position, and a bad temper. How do I know all these traits of Mr.
Whyte's character, morally and socially? Easily enough; my omniscient
friend found them all out. Mr. Oliver Whyte was the son of a London
tailor, and his father being well off, retired into a private life, and
ultimately went the way of all flesh. His son, finding himself with a
capital income, and a pretty taste for amusement, cut the shop of his
late lamented parent, found out that his family had come over with the
Conqueror--Glanville de Whyte helped to sew the Bayeux tapestry, I
suppose--and graduated at the Frivolity Theatre as a masher. In common
with the other gilded youth of the day, he worshipped at the gas-lit
shrine of Musette, and the goddess, pleased with his incense, left her
other admirers in the lurch, and ran off with fortunate Mr. Whyte. So
far as this goes there is nothing to show why the murder was committed.
Men do not perpetrate crimes for the sake of light o' loves like
Musette, unless, indeed, some wretched youth embezzles money to
buy jewellery for his divinity. The career of Musette, in London, was
simply that of a clever member of the DEMI-MONDE, and, as far as I can
learn, no one was so much in love with her as to commit a crime for her
sake. So far so good; the motive of the crime must be found in
Australia. Whyte had spent nearly all his money in England, and,
consequently, Musette and her lover arrived in Sydney with
comparatively very little cash. However, with an Epicurean-like
philosophy, they enjoyed themselves on what little they had, and then
came to Melbourne, where they stayed at a second-rate hotel. Musette, I
may tell you, had one special vice, a common one--drink. She loved
champagne, and drank a good deal of it. Consequently, on arriving at
Melbourne, and finding that a new generation had arisen, which knew not
Joseph--I mean Musette--she drowned her sorrows in the flowing bowl,
and went out after a quarrel with Mr. Whyte, to view Melbourne by
night--a familiar scene to her, no doubt. What took her to Little Bourke
Street I don't know. Perhaps she got lost--perhaps it had been a
favourite walk of hers in the old days; at all events she was found
dead drunk in that unsavoury locality, by Sal Rawlins. I know this is
so, because Sal told me so herself. Sal acted the part of the good
Samaritan--took her to the squalid den she called home, and there
Rosanna Moore fell dangerously ill. Whyte, who had missed her, found
out where she was, and that she
was too ill to be removed. I presume he was rather glad to get rid of
such an encumbrance, so he went back to his lodgings at St. Kilda,
which, judging from the landlady's story, he must have occupied for
some time, while Rosanna Moore was drinking herself to death in a quiet
hotel Still he does not break off his connection with the dying woman;
but one night is murdered in a hansom cab, and that same night Rosanna
Moore dies. So, from all appearance, everything is ended; not
so, for before dying Rosanna sends for Brian Fitzgerald at his club,
and reveals to him a secret which he locks up in his own heart. The
writer of this letter has a theory--a fanciful one, if you will--that
the secret told to Brian Fitzgerald contains the mystery of Oliver
Whyte's death. Now then, have I not found out a good deal without you,
and do you still decline to reveal the rest? I do not say you know who
killed Whyte, but I do say you know sufficient to lead to the detection
of the murderer. If you tell me, so much the better, both for your own
sense of justice and for your peace of mind; if you do not--well, I
shall find out without you. I have taken, and still take, a great
interest in this strange case, and I have sworn to bring the murderer
to justice; so I make this last appeal to you to tell me what you know.
If you refuse, I will set to work to find out all about Rosanna Moore
prior to her departure from Australia in 1858, and I am certain sooner
or later to discover the secret which led to Whyte's murder. If there
is any strong reason why it should be kept silent, I perhaps, will come
round to your view, and let the matter drop; but if I have to find it
out myself, the murderer of Oliver Whyte need expect no mercy at my
hands So think over what I have said; if I do not hear from you within
the next week, I shall regard your decision as final, and pursue the
search myself. "I am sure, my dear Fitzgerald, you will find this
letter too long, in spite of the interesting story it contains, so I
will have pity on you, and draw to a close. Remember me to Miss
Frettlby and to her father. With kind regards to yourself, I remain,
yours very truly,
When Fitzgerald had finished the last of the closely-written
sheets, he let the letter fall from his hands, and, leaning back in his
chair, stared blankly into the dawning light outside. He arose after a
few moments, and, pouring himself out a glass of brandy, drank it
quickly. Then mechanically lighting a cigar, he stepped out of the door
into the fresh beauty of the dawn. There was a soft crimson glow in the
east, which announced the approach of the sun, and he could hear the
chirping of the awakening birds in the trees. But Brian did not see the
marvellous breaking of the dawn. He stood staring at the red light
flaring in the east, and thinking of Calton's letter.
"I can do no more," he said bitterly, leaning his head against the wall
of the house. "There is only one way of stopping Calton, and that is by
telling him all. My poor Madge! My poor Madge!"
A soft wind arose, and rustled among the trees, and there appeared
great shafts of crimson light in the east; then, with a sudden blaze,
the sun peered over the brim of the wide plain. The warm yellow rays
touched lightly the comely head of the weary man, and, turning round,
he held up his arms to the great luminary, as though he were a
"I accept the omen of the dawn," he cried, "for her life and for mine."
WHAT DR. CHINSTON SAID.
His resolution taken, Brian did not let the grass grow under his feet,
but rode over in the afternoon to tell Madge of his intended departure.
The servant told him she was in the garden, so he went there, and,
guided by the sound of merry voices, and the laughter of pretty women,
soon found his way to the lawn--tennis ground. Madge and her guests
were there, seated under the shade of a great witch elm, and watching,
with great interest, a single-handed match being played between
Rolleston and Peterson, both of whom were capital players. Mr. Frettlby
was not present. He was inside writing letters, and talking with old
Mr. Valpy, and Brian gave a sigh of relief as he noted his absence.
Madge caught sight of him as he came down the garden path, and flew
quickly towards him with outstretched hands, as he took his hat off.
"How good of you to come," she said, in a delighted tone, as she took
his arm, "and on such a hot day."
"Yes, it's something fearful in the shade," said pretty Mrs. Rolleston,
with a laugh, putting up her sunshade.
"Pardon me if I think the contrary," replied Fitzgerald,
bowing, with an expressive look at the charming group of ladies under
the great tree.
Mrs. Rolleston blushed and shook her head.
"Ah! it's easy seen you come from Ireland, Mr. Fitzgerald," she
observed, as she resumed her seat. "You are making Madge jealous."
"So he is," answered Madge, with a gay laugh. "I shall certainly inform
Mr. Rolleston about you, Brian, if you make these gallant remarks."
"Here he comes, then," said her lover, as Rolleston and Peterson,
having finished their game, walked off the tennis ground, and joined
the group under the tree. Though in tennis flannels, they both looked
remarkably warm, and, throwing aside his racket, Mr. Rolleston sat down
with a sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness it's over, and that I have won," he said, wiping his
heated brow; "galley slaves couldn't have worked harder than we have
done, while all you idle folks sat SUB TEGMINE FAGI."
"Which means?" asked his wife, lazily.
"That onlookers see most of the game," answered her husband,
"I suppose that's what you call a free and easy translation," said
Peterson, laughing. "Mrs. Rolleston ought to give you something for
your new and original adaptation of Virgil."
"Let it be iced then," retorted Rolleston, lying full length on the
ground, and staring up at the blue of the sky as seen through the
network of leaves. "I always like my 'something' iced."
"It's a way you've got," said Madge, with a laugh, as she gave him a
glass filled with some sparkling, golden-coloured liquor, with a lump
of ice clinking musically against the side of it.
"He's not the only one who's got that way," said Peterson,
gaily, when he had been similarly supplied.
"It's a way we've got in the army,
It's a way we've got in the navy,
It's a way we've got in the 'Varsity."
"And so say all of us," finished Rolleston, and holding out his glass
to be replenished; "I'll have another, please. Whew, it is hot."
"What, the drink?" asked Julia, with a giggle.
"No--the day," answered Felix, making a face at her. "It's the kind of
day one feels inclined to adopt Sydney Smith's advice, by getting out
of one's skin, and letting the wind whistle through one's bones."
"With such a hot wind blowing," said Peterson, gravely, "I'm afraid
they'd soon be broiled bones."
"Go, giddy one," retorted Felix, throwing his hat at him, "or I'll drag
you into the blazing sun, and make you play another game."
"Not I," replied Peterson, coolly. "Not being a salamander, I'm hardly
used to your climate yet, and there is a limit even to lawn tennis;"
and turning his back on Rolleston, he began to talk to Julia
Meanwhile, Madge and her lover, leaving all this frivolous chatter
behind them, were walking slowly towards the house, and Brian was
telling her of his approaching departure, though not of his reasons for
"I received a letter last night," he said, turning his face away from
her; "and, as it's about some important business, I must start at
"I don't think it will be long before we follow," answered Madge,
thoughtfully. "Papa leaves here at the end of the week."
"I'm sure I don't know," said Madge, petulantly; "he is so restless,
and never seems to settle down to anything. He says for the rest of his
life he is going to do nothing; but wander all over the world."
There suddenly flashed across Fitzgerald's mind a line from Genesis,
which seemed singularly applicable to Mr. Frettlby--"A fugitive and a
vagabond thou shalt be in the earth."
"Everyone gets these restless fits sooner or later," he said, idly. "In
fact," with an uneasy laugh, "I believe I'm in one myself."
"That puts me in mind of what I heard Dr. Chinston say yesterday," she
said. "This is the age of unrest, as electricity and steam have turned
us all into Bohemians."
"Ah! Bohemia is a pleasant place," said Brian, absently, unconsciously
quoting Thackeray, "but we all lose our way to it late in life."
"At that rate we won't lose our way to it for some time," she said
laughing, as they stepped into the drawing-room, so cool and shady,
after the heat and glare outside.
As they entered Mr. Frettlby rose from a chair near the window. He
appeared to have been reading, for he held a book in his hand.
"What! Fitzgerald," he exclaimed, in a hearty tone, as he held out his
hand; "I am glad to see you."
"I let you know I am living, don't I?" replied Brian, his face flushing
as he reluctantly took the proffered hand. "But the fact is I have come
to say good-bye for a few days."
"Ah! going back to town, I suppose," said Mr. Frettlby, lying back in
his chair, and playing with his watch chain. "I don't know that you are
wise, exchanging the clear air of the country for the dusty atmosphere
"Yet Madge tells me you are going back," said Brian, idly
toying with a vase of flowers on the table.
"Depends upon circumstances," replied the other carelessly. "I may and
I may not. You go on business, I presume?"
"Well, the fact is Calton--" Here Brian stopped suddenly, and bit his
lip with vexation, for he had not intended to mention the lawyer's
"Yes?" said Mr. Frettlby, interrogatively, sitting up quickly, and
looking keenly at Brian.
"Wants to see me on business," he finished, awkwardly.
"Connected with the sale of your station, I suppose," said Frettlby,
still keeping his eyes on the young man's face.
"Can't have a better man. Calton's an excellent man of business."
"A little too excellent," replied Fitzgerald, ruefully, "he's a man who
can't leave well alone."
"A PROPOS of what?"
"Oh, nothing," answered Fitzgerald, hastily, and just then his eyes met
those of Frettlby. The two men looked at one another steadily for a
moment, but in that short space of time a single name flashed through
their brains--the name of Rosanna Moore. Mr. Frettlby was the first to
lower his eyes, and break the spell.
"Ah, well," he said, lightly, as he rose from his chair and held out
his hand, "if you are two weeks in town, call at St. Kilda, and it's
more than likely you will find us there."
Brian shook hands in silence, and watched him pick up his hat, and move
on to the verandah, and then out into the hot sunshine.
"He knows," he muttered involuntarily.
"Knows what, sir?" said Madge, who came silently behind him, and
slipped her arm through his. "That you are hungry, and want something
to eat before you leave us?"
"I don't feel hungry," said Brian, as they walked towards the
"Nonsense," answered Madge, merrily, who, like Eve, was on hospitable
thoughts intent. "I'm not going to have you appear in Melbourne a pale,
fond lover, as though I were treating you badly. Come, sir--no," she
continued, putting up her hand as he tried to kiss her, "business
first, pleasure afterwards," and they went into the dining-room
Mark Frettlby wandered down to the lawn-tennis ground, thinking of the
look he had seen in Brian's eyes. He shivered for a moment in the hot
sunshine, as though it had grown suddenly chill.
"Someone stepping across my grave," he murmured to himself, with a
cynical smile. "Bah! how superstitious I am, and yet--he knows, he
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