‘You are now on your own responsibility, my friend,’ said Vandeloup to Pierre, as he stood at the window of the carriage; ’for we must part, though long together have we been. Perhaps I will see you in Melbourne; if I do you will find I have not forgotten the past,’ and, with a significant look at the dumb man, Vandeloup lounged slowly away.
The whistle blew shrilly, the last goodbyes were spoken, the guard shouted ‘All aboard for Melbourne,’ and shut all the doors, then, with another shriek and puff of white steam, the train, like a long, lithe serpent, glided into the rain and darkness with its human freight.
‘At last I have rid myself of this dead weight,’ said Vandeloup, as he drove along the wet streets to Craig’s Hotel, where he intended to stay for the night, ’and can now shape my own fortune. Pierre is gone, Bebe will follow, and now I must look after myself.’
M. VANDELOUP IS UNJUSTLY SUSPECTED
‘It never rains but it pours’ is an excellent proverb, and a very true one, for it is remarkable how events of a similar nature follow closely on one another’s heels when the first that happened has set the ball a-rolling. Madame Midas believed to a certain extent in this, and she half expected that when Pierre went he would be followed by M. Vandeloup, but she certainly did not think that the disappearance of her husband would be followed by that of Kitty Marchurst. Yet such was the case, for Mr Marchurst, not seeing Kitty at family prayers, had sent in the servant to seek for her, and the scared domestic had returned with a startled face and a letter for her master. Marchurst read the tear-blotted little note, in which Kitty said she was going down to Melbourne to appear on the stage. Crushing it up in his hand, he went on with family prayers in his usual manner, and after dismissing his servants for the night, he went up to his daughter’s room, and found that she had left nearly everything behind, only taking a few needful things with her. Seeing her portrait on the wall he took it down and placed it in his pocket. Then, searching through her room, he found some ribbons and lace, a yellow-backed novel, which he handled with the utmost loathing, and a pair of gloves. Regarding these things as the instruments of Satan, by which his daughter had been led to destruction, he carried them downstairs to his dismal study and piled them in the empty fireplace. Placing his daughter’s portrait on top he put a light to the little pile of frivolities, and saw them slowly burn away. The novel curled and cracked in the scorching flame, but the filmy lace vanished like cobwebs, and the gloves crackled and shrank into mere wisps of black leather. And over all, through the flames, her face, bright and charming, looked out with laughing lips and merry eyes—so like her mother’s, and yet so unlike in its piquant grace—until that too fell into the hollow heart of the flames, and burned slowly away into a small pile of white ashes.