Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

15 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



CHAPTER XXXIV. Towards Judgment. For possibly a couple of minutes she continued On tbedoorstep immobile, as if she not only did not understand what had happened, but as if she also still failed to realise that her legal ad- viser was at least no longer where he was. She repeated his name, at intervals. Luker. linker." almost as if she were a child who re- peated, carrot-like, a meaningless formula. Then, after a while, when still there came no answer, she thrust her hand, as if mechanically, into the bosom of her dress feeling for some- thing. Presently it emerged, holding a flask. In the same odd, automatic fashion, as if her actions were not the product of her own volition, unscrewing the stopper, she placed the neck be- tween her lips. After a perceptible interval, suddenly slipping from between her fingers, it dropped on to the step with a clatter. It bad contained ether she had Bwallowed its entire contents. What were the exact physical or mental re- sults of what would have been a poisonous dose to an unaccustomed subject, it would be difficult to say. One fact may be baldly stated it robbed her of her senses. Her capacity of judging be- tween the real and the unreal had been tremb- ling in the balance. When she emptied that flask, unreality became all that was real. Not, perhaps, on the instant; but certainly after the expiration of a very few seconds. At first she stood trembling so that one might almost have expected to see her sink to the ground from sheer inaDility to stand. She stretched out her arms into the darkness, as if seeking for support; and found none. Then, putting her hands up to her face, she began to tub them up and down before her eves as if indeavouring to rub away some film whieh ob- scured her sight and she began to cry, softly, beneath her breath. Then, dropping her hands to her sides, sbe began to see—the things which were not; those visions which, in some forms, are the inseparable companions of a mind diseased. "I am coming I heard you you need not call so loud." The words were uttered, not loudly, but with such clearness of intonation that, proceeding from her as she stood there all alone in the outer darkness, and addressed, apparently, to 1 the circumambient air, they might pro- duced on unintentional listeners, not an agree- Ableceffect. She turned, making as if to insert As Bhe signed the paperl3abel8lipped from the chair in a dead faint. kite key which she still held, into the lock of the ^behind i«SS ™VfT,nt Iisbt which *aa jmt sufficient «.« lh« .he ft** seemingly opened of its own accord would occasioned her something more than won- she would at least have taken it for granted somewhere in its immediats neighbourhood helping hands and she would promptly j J'ave set -herself to discover to whom they be- i™8!? I an<* iQst wbere their owners might ba her then state no notion of the land to ontor her> brain. That the fact that waa °Pened occasioned ber sorpriso was f ODVlons but it waa surprise of a singular 1 quality r and it waa accompanied? by abjsct | terror. The woman seemed all at once to become stunted to shrink into sheerphysical insigni- ficance. Cuthbert Grahame," she mnttered," why did vou open tha door ? How did yoa get out of your bed to open the door ?" With a sound which was part wail, part sob, she stumbled acroas the threshold into the hall. Where shall I go ? Shall I go into tr.w room into which I first went on that first night Perhaps I'll be v safe in there perhaps I'll be safe. I don't want to go upstairs, not yet not just yet I daren't, jldarea't. Listen, how he calls to me how ha calls." i > She glanced up the staircase, which she ap- sptoaehed even while she shrank from it, and she law, in the dim, mysterious light, leaning over itbe banister, looking down at her from above a woman's face—Nannie Foreshaw. She did not ^stop-to ask herself if the appearance might, by ■' any chance, be real; creature of warm flesh and ■ Wood, It was some moments before she realised ;fco it was that looked at her. When she did, tfce presence there was so unexpected, so wholly Unforeseen, and thrust so deeply at her con- science, that it is not impossible that the mere i ■hock which resulted from the sight was sufli- cieat to disintegrate her few remaining wits. She at once took it for granted that she was /gazing at a spectre a shade returned from the tomb to afflict ?her before her time. Cowering i back against the wall, she broke into screams of -agony. Nannie. Nannie. didn't kill you. I didn't •skill you. Don't look at me Jike that. Don't. 'P0Q'*• Don't." Covering her face with her ? «ands, she began to sob with such violence that one could see her shaking a3 she leaned against 'he wall. When, removing her hands, she again Ventured to look up, there was no one there. "She's gone. She's gone." The words were uttered with a gasp of relief which it was not pleasant to hear. For a foment it seemed as if she might be restored *o something like her proper self. Then, while seemed to waver, without apparent rhyme ?r raason, all her tremors returned. Again she "foke into shrieks and cries. *She's waiting for me in his room—inhisroom, J* bis room. She's waiting for me. My God. J*h&t am I to do ? Help me. Help me. I'll j.^ve to go to him listen bow he calls to me how ha calls. I'm coining. Don't call so She began stumbling up the staircase; ^Qnderingly, blindly, as if she could not Bee *fhere she was going. Stopping every two or isteps clutching at the wall, the rails j ^Hcing back; looking as though if she could would descend. But each time, just as she *^8 about to beat a retreat, there came to her 8h 'nsiflta-ot voice, summoning her to her fate. gasped out expostulations even as fhe tumbled upwards. Don't call 6o loud. Don't a** so loud. I'm coming." And ahe did come a singular spectacle she P'eseated aa sho went. No one woul 3 have re- in that ill-shaped, mouthing, struggling though she alone knew what it was with ^ch #he struggled; who seemed nnable to stand jjjj^taaight, and to experience as much difficulty ascending an ordinary staircase as if it bad ■\»V0 tlle SC8rr°d surface of some precipitous cliff she was forced, very much against the J,i to climb,/ the flamboyant and somewhat lady who was known among a aet 5n London a'i the handsome Mrs r*wb. There were no traces of^fceanty about Br /n she had gained the landing ber terror the thing were possible—to increase. to her knees, clutching the railing sotn hands, she crawled, as if drawn by str '^visible force, against which all the tjj of her resistance was in vain, towards Q ro°m—the bedroom—in which Cuthbert of had passed so much of the latter part 1 life, and in which, through her action, ] iiM died, And all the while she protested. *tani Won t come. I won't come." For an in- fect s^e would cling, not only with her hazels, aa it were, witk her whole body, to the rail- BhomUB s^e had finally resolved that nothing constrain her to advance another inch. a £ &in she was possessed by a paroxysm of r" I ewne. Don't call so lond. fining." 6(je she was in front of the door^jf the room, <U;0- halt for perhaps ipore than a minute, -e *Q a ^eaP on the floor, covering her of her hands, overtaken by such a fury «B J £ ?*P'ng that the violence of her sobs seemed Y would tear ber to pieces. Then, as if *0*3 8<* by some sudden irresistible itnDulso,she •i pQ her feet, and exclaimed, still weeping fiet^V.^hbert Grahame, I hear you calling. I am j, "•orew open tha dead man's becsroctn tsoor. CHAPTER XXXV. Jfcui* Judges' h was tbe same iarcsnoas glow t^ts *|hean noticcablo in the hall and on tha could-havo been no more eloquent ^Cou^hy of her condition than the fact that she } ,ta presence as a matter of course that St^thtE seeaQed to occur to her that there was <» • le*3^ about it which required elucidation .hat a few shrewd, well-directed in- g. ^Rht result in a very simple explana- 6 atood on the threshold, all dishevelled, always before her oyes tbe things nf st-.e stricken with a mad • fe»e by thg horror of the sight, I i I She came a little farther nto the loom, i staring towards the bed. VVben she bad taken a | step or two it seemed as if her legs refused to I uphold her any longer. Down she sank on to her knees again, again she covered her face with her hands as if by such means she could shut off from herself the hideous imaginings of: ber 1. haunted brain. "Don't. Don't. Don't," she wailea. 'f While still she remained in that attitude of humility and penitence there came a voice which- called her by what had once been her name. "Isabel Burney." That she heard it there could be no doubt. At the sound of it she shivered more than ever. But it may be that sbe:was in doubt whether ItwaS a material voice; or whether it was a fresh mani- testation of those too-well remembered.tones, which kept calling to her all the time. *°r !t is possible that a disordered mind may be con- j seious that there is a difference between the real and the imaginary. without being capable of satisfactorily perceiving what it is. She did not answer. It came again not loud, yet distinct and dominating. i Isabel Burney." j This time she repeated her former wail, with I I renewed force of entreaty. Don't. Don't." If it was intended for a cry of appeal to beJeft alone, it went unheeded. The voice returned,, asking what was emphatically a leading question.; Did y*u murder Cuthbert Grahame ? She made not the slightest attempt to shirk the very weighty responsibility which attended. a reply to such a guestion. An affirmative was bursting from her lips ahnostijeforoit waa asked. Yes. Yes. Yes." ( How did you murder him ? Again tbe wail— "Don't. Don't. Don't. How did yon murder bim ?" The wail became hysterical cried. "Oh. Oh. Oh." jt5ut the voice persisted. I?bw did you murder him ?" Confused words came stumbling from her lips, I as if they were being forcibly extracted. The pillows — dragged—from under-he choked." You dragged the pillows from under him, BO that his head fell down, and he was choked ?" (I Ygg^' Why did you murder him ?" Here again camMhe answer came rapidly and: y* "Because I didn't want him to destroy the will' which I had tricked him into signing." •• How did you trick him ? He made me draw np a will which left all his property to Margaret Wallace." And then I drew up a will in which he left everything to illA." And then ? I covered it with a sheet of paper, and got him to sign it, thinking that he was signing the. other." Did he know what ba bad done ?" H Yea I killed him before he could tell any- one else, and have the will destroyed." The voice was still. There was silence broken by the sound of someone moving. The room was filled with a bright light. The voice came again. Isabel Burney." TheAfoman on her knees, dropping her hands, looked round. By a.lighted lamp which tested on a writing table stood Margaret Wallace. Whether Mrs Lamb realised that she was look-. ing at the girl herself, or supposed that she'was confronted by a materialised phantom, baa never been certainly known. She stared at her surlily, unblinkingly, affrightodJy, as one might stare at some unpleasing object in a dream. The girl repeated the questions which had already been answered; as one listened the last remnants of donbt vanished as-to whose was tbe voice which hact already made itself so prominent. Did yoa trick Cuthbert Grahame into sign- ing a will in which he left all that he had to you, when he supposed himself to be signing one in whiah he left it all to me ?" There waa a momentary hesitation then the answer, spoken sullenly,half beneath her breath, yet plain enough— Yes, I did." And did you then kill him because yon feared discovery of what you had done ?" Yes, I did." Tbera was another movement on the other side of the room. When Mrs Lamb looked round she found herself looking at Dr. Twelves, who put a question to her on his-own account. I "So you lied to me when you said thosopillows i must have slipped you knew better. As I sas- pected, you dragged them away—you female fiend." His invective went unnoticed there came-the rather monotonous refrain. Yes, I did." Yes, I did." There were other movements proceeding from aU parts of the room. On one aide of her were ¡ Andrew McTavish and his partner, Mr Brown. Mr McTavish waa evidently very angry. '■ And yon lied to ns when you pretended that you suspected us of robbing you. You knew all along that the only robbery you yourself had committed—you impudent swindler." He only received the Eame reply. Yes, I did." Dr Twelves [wagged his finger at her grue-i somely. You shall hang for it, Isabel Burcey; yon shall hang by the neck until you're dead." Mr McTavish cried- At any rate, yon shall be sent to penal servitude for the fraud you have committed on- us." She showed no signs of resentment, as only a very short time before she undoubtedly would, have doue, when her resentment would prob- ably have taken a sufficiently active turn. From her demeanour it was difficult to determine if r she comprehended what was being said to her. She gazed stolidly about the room. Near a window stood Nannie Foreshaw leaning on a stick; holding with one hand the curtain from behind which she had juat emerged. At sight of her she shrank backwards, as if she would withdraw herself as fat as she could. Before the door, as if he would bar her retreat, was Harry Talfourd. When she saw him she seemed to be moved more than she had been by any of the others. She turned aside, with a low cry, and covered her face. Possibly, in some tangled fashion, she rememmbered how, so recently, she bad ul&yed to him the roieof the great lady—the benefactress; how willing she had been to be something more to him than that, and she was vaguely conscious of what a contrast. she was exhibiting to him now. Margaret had been seated at a table writing. Now rising, she turned to the woman who was still on her knees upon the floor. I have set down upon this sheet of paper a short confession of your guilt. If you will sign it you shall not hanK; yon shall not be sent to prison, You shall receive your only puninb- ment from your own conscience. I think that is to condemn you to the greater punishment. I will read yon what I have written." She read aloud from the paper which aha took in her hand— I confess that Cnthbert Grahameinstrncted me to draw up a will in which lie left all that, he had in the world to Margaret Wallace; that, without his knowledge, I substituted for it another form of will, according to which he left his property to me; and that I induced him: to sign this fraudulent form by means of a trick. I also confess that I murdered Cuth- bert Grahame in order to avoid an exposure' of the trick by means of which I induced him to sign the substituted fraudulent form of will. If you will attach your name to this confession you shall receive no punishment beyond that which you award yourself. that will be a suffi- cient one. Come here and sign." Aa if automatically, Mrs Lamb rose to her feet, moved towards the table, seated herself on the chair which Margaret had occupied, accepted, the pen which the girl offered, and wrote her name in full on the sheet of paper which waseet before her. When she httd signed, leaning back, she looked trom one to the other. They waited for her to speak, expecting, perhaps, some borst.of tardy anger. Then, on a sadden, without a. word or a movement, sbe.slidfroro the chair on to the floor. When they gathered round her she lay still. CHAPTER XXXVI. Pleasant Dreams. The^jdnel had been fought to a finish,.and; Margaret had won. When Mrs Gregory Lamb was brought back out of the fit by which she had been overtaken, she was lying on Cothbart Grahame's bed on which he had lived so long, and died, at her hand the bed whose image bad been borne in upon her phantom-haunted brain with such hor- rible persistency. Dr. Twelves was bending over her standing where he had stood many a time to bend over the man she slew. She was little; betterthan a babbling idiot. She iaDot mtlch more than that now. She is a<rertified lunatic under kindly, yet watchful, guardianship the expense of which is paid by the girl whom she* ao croelly wronged. The physical and mental strain which had been placed upon her during that creasing ifnancial pressure had been great; her attempts to relievo it by a resort to ether had made it ten times greater. How much of the spirit she drank has not been exactly ascer- tained. She must have consumed large quanti- ties. Probably only the natural strength of her constitution enabled her to resist its loi/ft' as she did. Undoubtedly the babitofefcher drinking had increased in her to-sueh an-ex. tent that, in any case, it would nltHnately bare produced insanity. Her reason was already tottering when she was brought face to face with Margaret Wallace on the night of her reception and was put toauch dire confusion. It is be-> lieved that she touched no solid food afterwarda, subsisting solely upon ether. Isaac Laker asserted that she carrfed a large.bottla-of it in- her bag, when they journeyed together from' London, and sbe was sipping itscontenta thEoogh. out the day. It was not strange that when tne.momentcame she was ripe to fall a .ready victim to Margaret's carefully laid lures. The girl fought ber with weapons to which she was incapable of offering resistance. resistance. k Cuthbert Grahame's money; wbicb bag Jbeen searched for so long^in vain, was found deposited in the hiding-place, tbe secret of which she had; revealed to Mrs Lamb, intending, by working on her euilty conscience, and so erfrorting-from bar a confession, which it wascortain could never be obtained from her by any other means -to-destroy her-when she went to-seek it. Mar- garet is now Mrs Henry Talfourd. She is mar- ried to one who loved, and loves her, and for the: love of whom she was wiHmg"to sacrifice-all. Shs is a rich woman. Bearing in mind the sin- gularity of the circnmsatnces nnder which it has come integer possession. she was desirous of having nothing to do with the dead man's j money. But it was pointed ont that, except- ing herself, there was no possible-claimant She regards herself as an. almoner, as-a stewardof CnthbertGrahame'sgreat possessions rather than their owner, and employs by far the largest portion of the income they produce in works of benefaction. She still produces pictures, in black and white, and in cotour; there are.^ew women artists who have achieved a more sob- stantial success. Her husband has not realised his dreams. The Gordian Knot "1has never*been produced. '• He burnt the play with his own hands rand has;,1 never written another he alone knows why 1 thocgh his wife may have a shrewd suspicion.. So far he has been content to act as his wife's | right-hand man, an occupation which hitherto has^ept him fully employed. j Dr Twelves lives, and flourishes. He has been heard to declare that never again will he proffer assistance to any strange woman whom he finds, by the wayside. Nannie Foreshaw is dead. Messrs. McTavish and Brown have, if anything, improved their standing as family soiicitors of undoubted integrity: Mrs Talfonrf onoof their most valued clients. Mrs Talfourd presented Mr Gregory Lamb with a passage to South Africa, and with a sum of money when he landed. As he-has never asked for any mora money, and nothing has been heard of him-since, the presumption is that he has perished in that grave of many reputations. His wife's solicitor continues to exist, and is still a very well-known Kentleman in certain ex- tremely crooked walksof life. Cuthbert Grahame's home,has beeirtarned into a sanatorium and holiday home for children It could hardly be employed for a better pur-i pose. Boys and girls scamper-among the trees their voices, and their laughter, ring through .the house. They people it with freah associa- tions the old ghosts are gone. They find health and happiness in the place where once was < neither. And when at night, they laythair tired heads upon their pillows, they dream only -pleasant dreams. When thsy wake in the morn- ing, whether, actually, the skies be fair or clouded, to them it is alwaya as if the sun waa éshmlDg. If men and women would be content to^rv& as little children insomuch, at least, as to-be care- ml to keep themselves as free as little children from the stam of-mn, they, alao. would dream 0n^ laP easa?' ^dreams to the whole world it "would be as if the son were always shining. Tfaisi thing is Bure tbonRh—peradventrarei for euffi- ■ cient rea.sons-no one has ever proved it. (The End.)






Ceraplete Story, ,---.




, South Wales Art Society.…