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The House By The River

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lts glories were long gone by. They belonged to the days when the great folks of tho land saw fit, by the de' crees of fushion, to have a "country house" at Chelsea, or at Battersea, or at Fulhani, and so on. Nowadays these dreams f the country have been irremedinbly quashed by the remorseless will of iron roadways. Perhaps - we only usè the vague word because we do not intend to localizo our house toö distinctly - perhaps more than one such iron roadway may carry folks on an uplifted embankment past its upper windowa; perhaps hundreds of busy city workers nmy at the actual time oí these words being written, bewhirling past ita tierene old garden. Radiant nasturtiums flash their searlet And crimson and gold up froni between the autumn-dusted linies and yews and hollies; the geraniums are growing leafy, mignonette is growing seedy - really, the peojile in the train have no time to notiee theni. In a secotid they are flying acrosatheriver, and in another they are abovewharves and coal-trucks, without a vestige of a llower-garden at hand. But in the old house sonie serene spirit seems still to rest. Mrs. Lane, a widow lady, to whom the plm-d had comeby astrangecourae of events, was such a quiet, peacefulmannered lady, that one could scarcely help as.sociat ing with the veneration one easily feels for old-world glories. With a very slight sprinkling of romance, one might set her in a picture of some grand old time, when lordly folies en me to visit the old house, and when hoops and powder - aye, perhaps farthingales and ruffs - were parading the pleached alleys of the garden. But she had no ancestral claim on th place. She had simply inheriled the house f rom an eccentric cousin of her husband's. That husband had been a prosaic, not wealthy, West India merchant, and the cousin had bonght the place when, with a whaff lyiiiíí a little higher upthe river, ifchad -one into the market. iso romance of histoiy, you soe, can be found or the Shore House, and, so far. no ronianceofthe present. All elue to its ancient had gone. The wharf had boen the at I raction for John Salp, seeing that he had otlier wbarves contiguous, and he aiiu-u Kim uousenoi iïi. au. newiisa bachelor, and eccentric, and for live years he let the place go to rack and mm. Then he had it repaired and beautiiiod accordmg to modern fashion, aa a local man mterpreted it and again he let it stand untenantud. Now, eccentricities of ten grow out of what was once a simple romance, and ifc had been mo with this John Sale. A very simple romance indeed had come to him as a very young man, but it had not brought to him the desired ending; so whon he was old. he was kuown as a very cranky perron. A ane person. assut-edly, but still a cranky one. When he died, his will left most of hia proper t' y to chariües. but a certain ■om and the Shore House went to the heirs of a certain .lane Lucas, of Steveney, Bucks; failing such heirs discoverable within a year trom the testator's death, ho willed that the share shonld co to his cousin, Daniul Lane of Baibadoes, or his heirs. No Jane Lucas could be heard of. l)aniel Ladie h.-ul died before John Sale, so hH faniily nad the house, and strangely enough. on nimniaging amongst S.ile's papers, as strangers will do, a letter was found addressed to Mrs. Lane. It was couched in vague and mysterious language, but it enjoined her never to sell the Shore House. Why? No one could answer. It was no legally worded coaditiou accompanying her oecupancy, but simply a note. As far as so short a missive could do, it hinted at evil accruing to herewas a hiatus, a thickly-ruled, short line, another of the niannorisms of the writer, "Yes, and to you also if you sell the housi . ' Mrs. Lane waa calni, andgentle, and Xeaceful, but she shudderod for an instant. For one instant those words touchod her like an imprecation. But if she was cafan and quiet she was also gifted with common sense, and he said to hereelf that so fine a house she was not likely to giveaway. SellitiL it was more tmlikely, for in the depreciation of property she would liever gel for it what would buy her tinother hall so good. So she and her girls were settled at the Shore House, with streets of laborers' dwellings about thein. There was a vicarage half a mil off, and also, thf-ic ñera Two or three doctors - doctors must settle, be the neighborhood a poor or rich one - here is the full list of the gentry of the locahty. Her relations thought Mrs. Lane, with three marriageable daughters fooliwh to obey "old Sale's" will, but sho only smiled in her calm way, and took her own courso without any inore dist .Èirbanee. After her husband's death she had come to know "old Sale," and such affection as the eccentric man luid for human kind he gave to her. The house itself was just tin? place you might expect to seeifyouhad di iv. ii in tlrrough old lodge-gatoi, had relied through avenues of lordly elms, and over green idings of mossy turf. Theie it was, a squan.ivdbrk:k 'house, with rows of shining windowa framed in si ono, with no porch, but with a heevily pedimenteddoorway atwhose sidc post bung an antique brass handir. l'ive broad stepa rose from the gravelletl drive to this door; in front. .1 süiall lawn and Hower-beds; we I not add that the spacious expaivse wü have been eaying should have been was not there. .No. A liigli allenclosedthegarden, a rail way einbankment looked down ii]ion it. and upon a dusty high-street, n iitie shops were decidedly secondrate.and where.aseveningapproached, costermongers' barro ws were wont to congrégate. It was a región the opposite of aristocratie, and the nightfy sounds of shouting, asthecostermongia retailed thair herring and es and cheap oil-cloth were nofc of t.ha most musical. No wonder Mr. Lanen t'nends cïirl not cart tor t he place. They deol&red that a small Buburban cottage would be better fa r. "Perhaps so," Mrs. Lane said quiet)y. "But the cottage would cost me sixty or seventypoundsayear, wherens here I save all that, and the irla can :novi' ,-ibout so mach more, "] soe that, but " and her sister from Gypsy Hilllooked itpand looked down. and tlien looked rouiulthereally line drawing room. "But, you would say, weshouldnot eer Buch rooms?" Mrs. Lane had a ápice oí ([uizzical humor uiulerlyini; her quiclness. 'Indeed, no; I was thinking of no such point.7' "But we really should not; andnow, after so many years of colonia) openair life, I must have pace. The costermongiTS will not trouble ns in the winter- now, the Windows are all open." ' It was sunimer, and one could hear every sound - shouts of selling; squabbling of cross, tired children; the rattling of the chains of barges; aye, and the rustHng of the lea ves of the trees n tlie garden, and in the lull of other sounds, even the soft swish of the incoming tide against the old ston foundations of the Shore House. Here Mand canie in with a handful of ruddy carnations fov her aun t. The smoke of faetones .lid not prevent their growing half-wild in the old garden. Maud was going off thatpvening lor a few days' visit to Qy psy Hill, and she meant to show that the Shore House garden could do as well as any on the score of carnations. She was a fair, yellow-haired girl, not by any means vulgarized by the Shore House locality, but as sweet and refined as any girl could be. liewsie and Nan were theothertwo - dark girls both of them, and in that like their futher. Bessie was home only that very day from a week's stay in London. Nan was the stay-athome daughter. The August evening drew on. Aunt Mary liad driven off in a cab with Maud, and the usual course of things drifted on. The river-bieezes, softening the blaze of daytime, came now to be chilly, and the windows were closed. Then Nan sat down to the piano - the giil played unueually well- and the two others each took a book. Pretence for both of them! Mrs. Lane nevei' even found her place, but opening the volume, and fixing it on her knee, with her hand on its open page, he began to say: "Had Bess seen such a person? heard howsuch another was getting on? And Bebsie answered - answered quite distinctly, but nevertheless in such a way as lier mother detected to be a new way. The girl was thinking of something outside her words, and as she answered she carried her book tothewindow. seeiningly so interested in its contents as to be unable to spare a moment for what her mother wanted - a nice chat. She had by mistake taken up adictionary which Maud had chosen to consult for some quibble of spelling. Mrs. Lane had seen this, and smiled to herself. When the gloammg had gathered bit more, and Nan's fingers were wandering amongst the dreaniy, ad fancies ot Chopin. Mrs. Lane said. "Conu1 here, Bess dear," she was on a sofa, and she made the girl sit at her feet on a furry rut;. "It was a stupid visit t hou, atter all?" "Stupid? It was heavenly?1' Bessie was given to impulses. "Heavenly! with Mrs. Clay laid up, and all the boys oñ for their hofiday?" "Just so, mumsie dear. I'd bettct make a clean breast of it at once- i,,...,'. i i ....,„, o,, prá..tjii,j j the boys were off on Saturday - three clear evBiiing, you sec, formetoenjoy the charme of their society, and - shestopped tor a seond, "and the society of their friends." Here a bit of lace trimming on her musliti dress gave a little Bcratching noise- her fingers had torn it. "Bothw!" "My dear Bess?" her mother cried in her calm wny. "The 'bother' belongs to the torn lace, my dearest, not to - to - the other thing. ghall I teil you?" The girl turned her face round to her mother. "You had better dear, Ishould sav." Mrs. Lane did not feel calm in her innermost heart. Mothers get resentiments. "You knew that Clint boy?" "Clint boy" "Well, scarcely a boy, I suppose, seeiiig he is of the ripe age of 27. He has actually asked me to marry him! Presumption, isn't it?" "If you think so. I suppose you told him so?" "Mumsie dear, could I be so rude!': and Douo linlcccl Itci liAxada upoo Hoi mother's knee. "But I mean it se riously - quite true!" she nodded. "] mean it's quite true that he wisheswishes- what I said just now." ' 'Dear, dear, andyouonly ninet een ! ' : "I feel fitty, dear, really, ever since 1 came home,and have had time t o think it over." We need not. give any more of thii conversation; a fact, looming in thi future, grew out of it, and became a very present reality. Beau was engaged, and would, early in the coming year, be inarried to Michael Clint. It was certainly not a brilliant outlook. Youn Clint had no prospects in Kngland, bat had the promise of a clerkship - a first rate clerkship - in a merchant's house at Valparaiüo. "And," said AuntMary, "if theirls had had more suitable home-society they would not become so fond of gadding about, and would not have known so much of their friend's brothers' friends. You'll see I am right, Kli.abetli, when they all have done the same thing." Whereat Mrs. Lane drew up hei pretty fair head, and answered in a lower voice t han usual: "Ishall be content, Mary with other sons-in-law if they equal Michae! Clint." Christmas was over, and the Shore house had much business goint; on iu it. It was only natural that Mik. Laue shotild slirink from the idea of losingBess - perhaps liertavoritechild, because so much the opposite of herself - bul she looked iipon the starting in Ufe abioad asno unreasonable matter. Had sh not done the same herself, and had not her husband made the Barbadiau home a poradise for her? He had not left her rich, but he had left a conipetenee; surely for Bess, she could be content if her life were only as good as her own had been! But she cried a bit over the making of the girl's wedding clothes. The Shore House looked somewhat desolate. The gay flowers had gone from the garden, the trees were leafless, anow lay grimy on the bargtw outside the high wajl; beyond was the 8low, heavy black river, and again beyond it was sharper blackncss on the farther bank.where mountainsofpiled coals were waiting to be towed down the streani. Mrs. Lane sat ewing by herself. All the girls were out that afternoon, Bess making rounds in her district for the last time, the other two shopping in town. A young maid opened the door and asked if her mistress "would have some tea or wait for the young ladies." "Oh, wait - certainly wait," what did the mother want with tea or any such creature comfort when her girls were all away? She stiched on, and thoughts ver plant y. Had ho rill,v don wrang by fixtng herseli in tho Hhon HóumT Would the girls really have had bright" er chances, if she had cat-ried theiu t.o a inoie fashionablo locality? Her sister Mary was wise - worldly-wise. Aud slie looked round on the spacious, dear old room. How the old furniture looked jast the thing in it, how the very shabbiness of the deep crimsoii draparies looked venerable and ïvspectable in such a spacioua dignity of a room! No, she could not nave been wrong. So she mused, cotnt'orting and worrying her soul by turns. Then the girls caine in, and very soon Michael Clint cama too, and there was no more dreaming over good or ijl, but in its place glad, hopeful planning. Clint had been from the Saturday to the Monday down at his godfather's, in Northaniptonshire. This was only Monday evening, and hewas full of all he had seen and done. He had a bright way with him; he could teil a story well, and he could make amusing pictures out of very email suggestions. One thing we have to piek out of all of his telling, because it fits into what we are trying to give aa the story of the Shore House. "A very goblin chamber!" he had said. "Why a goblin chamber? Did you see. anything?" Nan asked. "No; but I heard " "Oh!" "Rats - nothing anore. Do Iseem to you the sort of man who would believe in ghosts?" and he drew up his tall figure, making the most of his broadchest, and taking a step or two across the hearthrug. "Do I presume to know the hidden beliefsof- of- your inner self?" laughed Nan. "Nobly expressed, my dear!" "Don't squabble, you two," Bess commanded gaily. "Just describe the goblin chamber. Was it like this? with the gas turned down, and the barges on the river creakiiig as they do on a wind y night, this is asghostly as you please." "Hum! I never sitw is in that light. But you may be right," andtheyoung man began iritically to look at the antique curiosities of the room - at the black old mantel, and the high wainscot; at the pedimont over the door, at the deep recesses of each side of the fireplace. "Waddon Croft may b older- I can't say. But there's more thanone room wonderfully like this." "And we may have a ghest! How highly respectable?" "But the goblin chamber!" Nan insisted. "I want to hearaboutthat. What's the story?" "A murder, and a ghost, and a hidden tieasur; - thoy are all in it!" "Perfect!" Nan clapped her hands. "And does the ghost guard the hidden treasure, or did the murderer carry it off?" Maud put in, not quite so gaily as the others had been speaking. 'TH get the details all correct for you the next time I go down. You see, the point that interested me most was where the ghost points out the place of the hidden treasure. I'd like just such another ghost to come to me. We could do with a bag of gold, could we not, old lady?" this to Bess. I wish you could have heard old Harper teil the story; he was quite dramatic. I wonder whether many houses were built with those secret cupboards; do youthinkyou haveone here, Mrs. Lane?" "Oh no, I should say not." "Let us try, mumsie!" Bess cried. Clint took up au unibrella belonging toone of the girls. and usingits handle as a hammer, went knockmg by the side of the old black mantel. "What do you want to hear?" Nan inquired. "The clink of gold?" very niuch," ne answered; "Dut first, I want a hollow sound - there is only hard brick there. Let ustry the other sids." He moved from the left to the right-hand side, pushing aside a big cusliioned easy-chair, and standing well in the deep recess. Then he again bejan hammering. Hard, echoless brick - lower on, the same. Then a foot more inwards, brick atitl. Ah! The sound changed. There was wood, and an unraistakable hollow sound. "Mumsie!" was Bess' ejaculation, and sheclutched at her mother's arm. Clint feit the wainscot with critical fingertips. Again he tapped, and again he feit on both sides of the chimney. The two sides were not alike. Most decidedly there was a hollow space on the right side. Mrs. Lane's calmness was overruled altogether, and to rest as they had done was no longer a possibility. There was a hidden clipboard, and in the cupboard was a paper packet. On it was written in the smallest writing: "I hope Eli.abeth will never so repair the Shore House as to find this. A stranger would repair; she won't. Bilt I cannot f o reet Jane. Shall I think more of a dead woman than of a living friend? No. The past compels me - compels me, a drivelling dotard now, to write the sealed paper; but I say again I pray that Elizabeth Lane may never find this. If shedoes she must unseal the unclosed. Johx Sale." "It is to give the Shore House to that Jane Lucas!" Nan cried. "Who was she? Was old Sale her lover?" Mrs. Lane's calmness was broken. How her hands trembled as she held the dusty packet int hem! The whole was in so small a co rapa ss. The secret closet was barely more than a foot square, the packet was nothing more than a goou-sized ordinary blue business envelope with pinrtied and cramped writing just coverine the side where one would put an address. "I cannot open this without seeing Mr. Goldingham first" Mrs. Lane bejan to say doubtingly. "Non8ense, mumsie," Bess said in her bright, practical way. Evidently uo one has anything to do with the thing except you. "Jane Lucas, he says is dead," Naa put in. "I would open it," was Michael Clint's advice. "We are all witnesses if anything comes out of it." How little could hedreamof the real outcome! Mrs. Lane was overruled. A large sheet of letter-paper was folded within the envelope, and thu whole that was written upon it was this, and the same contracted, pinched writing as was that on the envelope: "Jane Lucas, of Steveney, Bucks, married one John Mills, organist - cur" - the word wasundcrlined. "Jane Mills had chiídren, became a widow, and died, in Dublin, in 1841." A dtad silence feil on all. Verily, the Shore House, and moneyas well - money to the extent of about one hundred a year - went from Mrs. Lane. The first remark was from Nan, who evidently grasped the entire situation. "That goblin chamber has brought us a nice sti'oke of huk!" "Confound the place!" Clint relieved his soul in this way. ' "There is only one thins tobedone" - Mrs. Lane was hei' ca lm self, also her business-like self - "and that is to see Mr. Goldingham to-morrow morning." Again we munt push aside details and brine about an ending. In January Clint and Bess were married, and up to that time the heirs of Jane I,nras had not, been found. In a church register at a village near Steveney, they had found the nertiticateof her marriage with Mills, but no more. No children were born in that quartev. Advertisements were sent out tfroadcast, and clevk from Goldingham and Trew' office was sent to Dublin. That was like seeking the needie in the bottom of the hay. And the course of faniily events at the Shore House could not go on. We must, however, say that tliia mystery was an uncomfortable one, and though the girls made light of it, it caused some sleepless nights to Mrs. Lane. Airead y she - careful woraan that she was - began to think and plan, for she must retrencli when she left the Shore House. And go she must.. But how? and to whom would the house go' Again Clint was at the Northamptonshire house, this time with hu wite. One day he got a letter from Goldinham's oflice - he was wanted in London at once. The day before, Mrs. Lane had a visit from the lawyer, bringing her news from Dublin. At last bis clerk had lighted on traces of the Mills family. Theorganist - the "cur" of Sale's paper - had died in 1835. A further register gave the birth of a posthumous sirl early in 1836. Next in order came the deaths of three boys from fever; next the death of Jane Mills in 1341. Then - to find the girl. Was she the only survivor? Yes, she was. The next trace of her was as achild, in a school in the Weat of England. Her father's relations had placed her there- who wanted the charge of a penniless girl? The next step was her marriage. She has got enough education tomake a governess - in ttiose days a governess need not be certificated- and she had married tairly well. And who was her husband? A certain Robert Clint, a doctor in the North of London. In fine, Michael Clint's father! So Michael was heir, for both his iather and mother were dead, and he was their only child What move need we say? The Lanes lived on at the Shore House, and Clint went with his wife, vu proposed to Valparaiso. Thehundred ayear of cash willalwaysbeusefulto a business man, and if he, or his, wish to come to England, the Shore Houae ia large enough to hold many more than the Tanes. Maud says some day she shall write a book and cali it the John Sale Mystery; we do not think she will; she will have other work- womanly work of quite another sort. For agatn, Aunt Mary has been saying: "Elizabeth, I really wonder you do not keep your girls more at home. 1 would not have my girls visit as youra do!" But all the while she is wishing her girls would make as good matches as "those Lane girls manage to do."


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