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About The McCook tribune. (McCook, Neb.) 1886-1936 | View Entire Issue (July 21, 1899)
CHAPTER VI. ( Continued. )
My heart sank as I remembered the
Incident of last evening , the evidently
clandestine meeting In the shrubbery
at Forest Lea. Could this journey be
conected with that meeting , and could
.the timid , modest girl I had known at
Forest Lea be capable of planning and
carrying out secret arrangements , sur
rounded by so many difficulties In her
circumstances ? What did it mean ?
' The endless green panorama still
flitted by ; not a sound , save the occa
sional rustling of a newspaper , broke
the silence of the railway carriage ;
the passengers were either sleepy or
unsociable. An Irrepressible desire to
speak to Miss Branscombe possessed
me I could bear the situation no
longer. I turned toward her with the
paper I had been reading In my hand ,
intending to offer it to her. She was
already occupied with a book one of
those thin paper-covered volumes
bought at book-stalls and she'dld not
raise her eyes from It or otherwise
appear to have noticed my movement.
There was no doubt of her wish to
Ignore our previous acquaintance. And
a conclusive further proof of her Iden
tity waa given me in her dress , which
I now had the opportunity of seeing
more distinctly. It was of a brownish
shade , and the pattern a little check
a simple girlish costume which I re
membered she had worn in the morn
ing of the day Col. Branscombe died.
Could I forget the least detail con
nected with her ?
A sudden inspiration flashed through
my mind. Miss Branscombe had sought
.this method of communicating with me
privately , away from her family circle ,
and the reserve she maintained was
necessary for the moment in the pres
ence of our fellow-passengers , some of
whom might be known to her by sight
at least. When the proper moment ar
rived she would explain herself. I
"Young lady not coming back , sir ? "
said one of them , a portly squire , with
a humorous twinkle in the corner of
his eye. "She's left her cloak and her
book" pointing to the latter where It
lay on the floor. "Not coming back
eh ! "
"I suppose not , " I answered as In
differently as I could , stooping to pick
up the dropped volume. On the fly-leaf
was written In pencil the name "Nona
"Five minutes past four , " I said to
myself as I sprang out on to the plat
form at Euston Station. "I shall just
have time to report myself at the of
fice before Rowton leaves , get a feed
somewhere , and catch the G:30 : back to
Forest Lea. Here , hansom as fast as
you can drive to Chancery Lane ! "
My plans had been rapidly formed
in the time which elapsed between
Miss Branscombe's disappearance at
Molten Junction and my arrival at
Euston. If Miss Branscombe intended
to return to Forest Lea that night ,
reference to Bradshaw had shown me
that It must be by the 6:50 : train from
town there was no other stopping at
Westford ; and if she did not return
from that mysterious errand which
I could no longer flatter myself was
in any way connected with me then
my presence at Forest Lea might be
urgently needed. Such testimony as
I could give as to Miss Branscombe's
movements might be of the utmost
consequence if she was to be saved
from some unknown villainy of Char
lie Branscombe's. I shuddered at the
thought of her possible danger in his
hands , and urged my cabby to swifter
speed over the rattling London streets.
James Rowton received me with
"Awfully glad you've come back , old
man ; the chief is still laid up , and I
find myself up to my ears In work. "
"IT WAS NO NA HERSELF. '
knew what fruitless attempts she had
already made to enlist me on her side.
This idea did not perhaps remove the
primary and greatest difficulty of the
situation , but I hailed it eagerly. It
gave Miss Branscombe the loophole
jwhich my love demanded. I was con
tent to wait my lady's pleasure nay ,
I was more than content I forgot all
the doubts and fears which had har
assed me a moment ago in the rapturous -
, turous delight of the thought that she
trusted me , she turned to me for help
n her difficulties. A man in love will
jforgive any indiscretion of which he is
himself the object and by which he
( ' The train sped on , the afternoon
Shadows lengthened. The express
stopped at few stations on its rapid
journey , and , as one after the other of
these halting places was passed with-
'out a sign from Miss Branscombe , 1
began to conclude that her destination ,
was the same as my own or , was she
only sitting out the fellow-passengers ,
'not one of whom had left us ?
The question was presently answered
in a startling and unexpected manner.
Molten , a large busy junction , was
reached. We were on the point of
leaving It again after a three minutes'
halt , when Miss Branscombe , with a
hurried glance at the platform , started
to her feet , and before I could assist or
prevent her , she had snatched her bag
from the opposite seat , beckoned tea
a passing porter , and left the carriage
as she had entered it swiftly and sud
I sprang after her.
"Just starting sir time's up ! " sailed
I gave little heed to the warning ;
but a stream of passengers just ar
rived by the branch line interposed
between me and Miss Branscombe , the
whistle of the express sounded , and
the remembrance of Col. Branscombe's
will , left behind me In the carriage ,
recalled me to my duty. I dashed back
just in time , mad with disappointment
and baffled curiosity , and regained my
seat in a condition which roused my
The junior was not fond of work.
"There's that case of Rose versus Em
ery you know all about it , I suppose ,
and old Mrs. Entwistle's estate , and
Sir Everard Brimbone's settlements
they are all on me like a pack of
wolves. Morton , from Morton and
White's , has been in 'three times to
day. Sir Everard wants the thing
pushed on marriage comes off at the
end of the month. Wish people
wouldn't get married ! Fagged to
death ugh ! " rising and stretching
himself. "Well , what's your news ?
Old man dead ? "
"Yes , " I said laconically , for his
tone jarred upon me. "Colonel Brans
combe's will is here" pointing to my
Gladstone bag. "We'd better take a
copy , I suppose. "
"Yes , I suppose so. What has the
old fellow done left everything to
that rip of a nephew ? "
"No , " I answered unwillingly. Nora's
name had become a sacred word to
me , and I hesitated to pronounce it
In such a presence.
"No ? Then what has he done with
the estate ? I thought he had no other
"He had a niece , " I replied , fumbling
for the key of my bag. "Oh , here it
is ! " taking the key from my pocket.
"Jennings must stay and make the
copy , and send It down. "
"A niece ? " interrupted Rowton.
"Who is she ? Never heard of her.
What's she like ? Young or old ? Doas
she come in for the land and all ? Why
don't you speak out , man ? "
"I I will in a moment , " I rejoined.
"What on earth is the matter with
this key ? " holding it up to the light.
"Something In the barrel dust , I
dare say , " suggested Rowton careless
ly. "But about the niece I'm inter
ested , Fort. Is she young and beau
tiful , and an heiress ? "
"It's the lock , " I exclaimed ; "the
key's right enough , and yet the bag
has scarcely been out of my sight.
What the " I stared at my partner ,
whilst I felt every vestige of color
leaving my'cheeks. . "This bag isn't
mine ; it's it's look at this" point
ing to a half-effaced label of a foreign
hotel adhering to the bottom of the
Gladstone. "I have never been ai
Venice , and" examining It mon
closely "this Is not my bag ; the koj
doesn't fit. "
"Whew w ! " whistled my partner
"A cass of 'exchange no robbery.
You've bagged somebody else's , ant
he's bagged yours" laughing at hi ;
own pun. "Awfully disgusted he'll b <
when ho sees the documents. "
"It's an impossibility , " I ejaculated
"The bag was put into the carriage
and taken out again by my own hands
and it never left my sight throughoul
the journey. It was on the opposite
seat. I can swear there's been no mis
take. It's a robbery ! Send for the
The words died on my 1'ns. A ter
rible suspicion darted Into my mind ,
Nona Branscombe had carried a black
bag a Gladstone , the facsimile oi
mine and I had deposited it beside
my own on the vacant seat. In her
precipitate flight she had taken the
bag , leaving cloak and book behind
her , and , as I remembered now , ef
fectually covering up the Gladstone
she had left In her agitation she had
evidently exchanged the bags by mis
"Robbery ? Nonsense It's a case ol
exchange ! " persisted James Rowton.
"Can't you remember who had the
other ? Did he come all the way ? "
"Yes , " I said confusedly , putting my
hand to my head. "I remember ; she
got out at Molton. "
"She ! " echoed my partner. "Was It
a woman ? And with a Gladstone ! "
"Yes , " I answered , heartily vexed
with myself for the involuntary admis
sion , "it was a woman. I'll go back to
Euston and wire to Molten at once.
The mistake may have been discovered
and my bag left there ; and I will fol
low the message by the first train. "
"Off again ? " exclaimed Rowton rue
fully. "There's a week's fag here"
pointing to a pile of documents which
filled the table.
"Can't help it ! " I retorted. "Tho
funeral takes place the day after to
morrow. I must be present to read
the will , take executor's instructions ,
and so on ; and there is other busi
ness which must be attended to. "
"Can't I run down ? " proposed Row-
ton. "Is the heiress there ? I should
like to see her. "
"I must find the will , " I replied.
"There's no time to be lost. The Col
onel gave me special instructions ; I
am bound to bo present other things
must wait. "
"You're off then ? " said Rowton , re
luctantly. "Well , ta-ta , old fellow !
Wire when you've got the bag. It's
an awful joke , though such a sell for
the lady. "
"Don't let the chief hear of it , " I
stopped to request as I left the office ,
the fatal bag in my hand "it would
upset him. "
"All right , " nodded the chief's
nephew. "It was an awfully flat thing
to do , you know , Fort to let a wom
an run off with the old Colonel's
will. And a steady-going fellow like
you , too ! Now , if it had been I "
I stayed to hear no more. My han
som was waiting , and my Jarvie
ceived his instructions to hurry back
to Euston with the equanimity of his
order. What did it matter if all the
world had gone mad so long as his
fare was a good one ?
My message was soon dispatched ,
and whilst I waited for the answer I
made my way to the refreshment room.
But , notwithstanding my long fast , I
was too fevered and excited to eat ,
and could only swallow a glass of
wino and break a biscuit. Then I
hovered Impatiently about the door of
the telegraph office , musing on the
complication which this unlucky acci
dent had brought into the whole affair -
fair- . _
( To be continued. )
They Must Have Been "Perfect Ladles' *
In Those Days.
One of the most notorious female
gamblers of the eighteenth century was
Miss Pelham , the daughter of the
prime minister , says Temple Bar. She
not only ruined herself at cards , but
would have beggared her sister Mary
as well had not their friends inter
vened and insisted on the sisters sep
arating. Horace Walpole gives a piti
ful account of "poor Miss Pelham sit
ting up all night at the club without a
woman , losing hundreds a night and
her temper and beating her head. "
Another writer says that the unhappy
woman often played with the tears
streaming down her cheeks. Lady
Mary Compton , an old maiden lady , a
contemporary of Miss Pelham and , like
her , addicted to gambling , had the
same propensity to tears. When she
lost , we are told , she wept bitterly
"not for the loss itself , " she was care
ful to explain , "but for the unkindness
of the cards. " Both ladies , when luck
went against them , lost their tempers ,
as did many others , and among them
Mrs. Cllve. The actress , after her re
tirement from the stage , lived at
Twickenham , in a cottage lent her by
Horace Walpole. The place had then a
reputation for qalet card parties. In
Montpelier row lived four aged dames ,
known in the neighborhood as Manllle ,
Spadllle , Baste and Pimto ; terms
Irawn for the game of quadrille. They
were accustomed to assemble every
night at eacn other's houses to play
: ards. On the first of the month each
in turn gave a grand party. A relative
jf one of the ladies has left an ac
count of one of these functions at
which he was present. Mrs. Cllve was
: > ne of the guests and happened to have
ior her opponent an old lady with very
white hair , who in the course of the
jame displayed two -black aces. There
upon Mrs. Clive flew in a rage and
screamed : "Two black aces ! Here !
ake your money , though I wish in
stead I could give you two black eyes ,
old white cat ! "
CHAPTER VII. ( Continued. )
My hitherto matter-of-fact life had
suddenly received its "baptism" of
mystery and romance ; and with it an
other initiation that supreme revela
tion which comes but once In a man's
life , and having come , leaves Its mark
upon it forever the revelation of
"Your message , sir , " said the tele
graph clerk at my elbow. I tore open
the yellow envelope , and read
"Molton Junction No Gladstone
bag left here , or Inquired for to-day. "
Then Miss Branscombe had not dis
covered her mistake. Moreover , her
destination was some point beyond
Molten , or she would certainly have
had time to detect the change of bag
I sent a message to Miss Elmslie at
Forest Lea , announcing my return
that night and requesting that if con
venient a carriage might meet me at
the station , and then I prepared to
getJS > 'irough as best I might the hours
of supense which lay before me.
My heart beat faster as the evening
express neared Molten Junction. I was
on the platform almost as soon as the
train stopped. The station was un
usually quiet , and the platform clear
from one end to the other ; there was
no sign of the slight , graceful figure
for which I sought eagerly. I did not
give up hope until the last moment.
After a hurried inquiry at the cloak
room I lingered by the carriage door
until the train was absolutely in mo
tion , and then resumed my seat with a
blank chill of disappointment. Miss
Branscombe was evidently not return
ing to Forest Lea that night.
The loss of the will serious as such
a loss would be to me both personally
and professionally occupied no place
in my mind as I traveled on toward
Forest Lea. I believe I had entirely
forgotten the lesser misfortune in what
seemed to me the greater the disap
pearance of Miss Branscombe from her
home. That she was the victim of
some deeply laid plot on the part of
her cousin I never doubted ; the rec
tor's precautions had been taken too
late. Possibly had I spoken of last
evening's discovery /Miss Branscombe's
can hear , she's dying. She was i
very old lady , and she's been bad thlt
six months or more. She was tool
I groaned inwardly. Then the rec
tor's help was lost at this critical junc
ture. It was a fatality ; I must tell
my story to Miss Elmslle , and that
without a moment's loss of time. From
her I might gain the information nec
essary to put me on the track of the
Miss Elmslie met me at the door ol
the little morning room devoted to her
use and Miss Branscombe's ; there was
no sign of agitation or anxiety in bet
manner nothing but cordiality and
satisfaction at my appearance.
"So good of you , Mr. Fort , to come
back so soon ! " she exclaimed. "And
how tired you must be after your two
journeys ! I am glad you were able to
return to us at once. We need your
help more than ever , for we have had
another shock tonight. The poor dear
rector has been called away to I fear
his mother's death bed. Ah , the
world is full of sorrowful things ! But
come in , Mr. Fort" as I stood rooted
to the threshold. "Come in to the
fire. What what Is the matter ? '
What , indeed ? No wonder that I
stared with dropped jaw and wonder-
stricken eyes , for in an arm chair by
the fire , which the chilly evening ren
dered comfortable , I beheld Nona
Yes , it was Nona Branscombe in the
flesh , and not a spirit , as in my first
utter bewilderment I had half imag
ined. She was wrapped in a light
fleecy shawl ; her face was pale as
death , and her whole attitude full of
listless weariness. She looked like
one who had wept until she could weep
no more , and had given up the strug
gle with grief out of sheer exhaustion.
I fancied that a faint wave of color
stole over the pale cheeks as she held
out her hand to me , but she did not
speak , and sank back again amongst
Miss Elmslie pressed food and drink
upon me with kindly hospitality , and
talked in her purling cheery way ,
"IN AN ARMCHAIR NEAR THE FIRE I BEHELD NONA BRANSCOMBE. "
guardians would have been on the
alert and this evening's escapade
would have been prevented. A girl ,
inexperienced , innocent , confiding
as , in spite of all , I could swear Nona
was might have been drawn into any
step , however extreme even into a
hasty and secret marriage by the fas
cinating and clever spendthrift to
whom she had given her girlish affec
tion , believing him to be unjustly
disinherited in her own favor.
Only a few hours had elapsed since
her flight , however. Yfas it too late
to save her ? Hardly. There could be
no marriage before the morning , if so
soon. I would go at once to the rec
tor and give him the clue I held. It
was just possible a dozen things were
The cool night wind blowing upon
my heated brow , as I sat once more
behind the splendid chestnut , seemed
to let light and air together in on the
subject and to lift me out of the
trough into which I had sunk. Hope
came to my heart. I was impatient to
confer with the rector. No , it was
certainly not too late , I decided.
The rectory was close to the gates
of the Lea. I directed my Jehu to
stop there first
"I have to see the rector. " I ex
plained. "They have not gone to bed.
I see lights ! "
"The rector , sir ? " said the man ,
pulling up , however. "Mr. Heathcote
went to Howmere just as I started to
fetch you. He was sent for- and he'll
not be back yet , even if he comes to
night. It's a good ten mile to How-
"Sent for ! " then it was all right. I
breathed a devout thanksgiving. Her
guardian had followed Nona she was
The man's next words demolished
"It's his mother , sir. From what I
whilst I listened and ate as in a
"It has been a long day , " Miss Elm-
lie said , "and there has been so much
to do. I made Nona keep her room un
til dinner time , and then came
the shock of the rector's summons.
Dear , dear to think that Mrs. Heath-
cote should follow the dear Colonel
so soon ! " She glanced at Nona , and
changed the subject. "Had you a
pleasant journey , Mr. Fort ? "
"Yes , " I answered , rousing myself
with an effort , "it was very pleasing up
to a certain point. Then a little ad
venture befell me. " I had myoeyes
fixed upon Miss Branscombe as I spoke ;
there was no change in her attitude , no
interest in her still , weary face.-
"An adventure ? " exclaimed Miss
Elmslie. "What was it ? "
I determined to make a bold stroke.
"I lost my bag , " I replied , watch
ing the motionless figure in the arm
"Lost your bag ! " echoed Miss Elms
lle. "Dear me I hope you found it
"No , I have not found it up to this
time , " I answered. "I believe it was
exchanged by a fellow passenger a
lady" still no sign from Nona "who
left her own in its place. "
"But the railway officials the the
telegraph , " said Miss Elmslie.who was
always confused and helpless in emer
gencies "they can get it back for you.
Have you made inquiries ? "
"Yes. " I answered , steadily. "I have
made inquiries , and" with emphasis
"I think I have traced the lady. "
Miss Branscombe lifted her hand at
this moment and leaned her cheek
upon it , shading her face from my
view. My shot had told at last
"You have traced her ? " said Miss
Elmslie. "Ah. then it will be all right ! "
"Yes. I hope it will be all right , " I
" said Mlas
"How very awkward ,
Elmslle , "for the lady as well as for
you ! Dear mo , Mr. Fort , I hope you
will soon got back your own property.
the station In the
Can wo send to
morning ? Or Is there now anything you
Austin can attend to
want for tonight.
It If you will ask him. "
"Thank you , " I replied , "tho bag con-
tanled nothing but papers. "
"Papers ! " exclaimed Miss Elmslle.
"Then you must bo very anxious , Mr.
Fort Do let us send or had you not
better go yourself ? "
"Thank you , " I responded ; " have
no doubt I shall recover everything
in the morning. "
"How cool you are ! " said Miss Elms-
lie. "I'should be in a fever. "
"I think I will go to bed now , " said
Miss Branscombc , rising languidly
from her chair.
"I will come up stairs with you , "
said Miss Elmslle , starting up and tak
ing Nona's arm In her own. "I shall
not say good-night , Mr. Fort ; you have
not finished your supper. Please don't
hurry I am coming back. "
Miss Branscombe bowed and held
out a limp , nerveless hand as I opened
the door for her exit She shivered Just
a little , too , and drew her shawl more
closely about her , but there was nei
ther guilt nor confusion only weari
ness and sorrow In the eyes which
met mine for an instant. Then the
two ladies crossed the hall and mount
ed the wide shallow stairs.
Miss Elmslie came down presently.
" " "she is absolutely
"Poor child , she said ,
lutely worn out ! She has cried the
whole day. I hope she will sleep now ;
that is the best restorer. She has had
no sleep yet. "
My first glance on gaining my bed
room was toward the Gladstone bag
which stood beside my portmanteau.
Nona had probably taken the opportu
nity of making the exchange quietly
in my absence she had shown her
self a person of resources , and I had
little doubt that this would be her
line of action. It would involve no
explanation of awkwardness. I lifted
the bag almost with a smile the ad
venture Interested me. There at the
bottom was still the half-effaced label
"Hotel gia , Venezia. " Miss Brans-
combe then had in some way failed to
be equal to the occasion ; possibly she
had been , as Miss Elmslie expressed it.
too "worn-out" to attempt the transfer
I opened my portmanteau , and there
amongst my own possessions lay the
large light gray dust cloak and the
yellow paper-covered volume left be
hind by my traveling companion ; there
were the penciled words , "Nona
Branscombc" tangible evidence that
the day's adventure had been no il
lusion or case of mistaken identity , as
I was half tempted at times to believe.
I fell asleep , after much troubled toss
ing , and dreamt of Nona Branscombe ,
at the Colonel's funeral , wrapped in
her gray dust cloak , and carrying in
her hand my Gladstone bag , with
"Venezia" in large letters on it r
( To be continued. ) /
Great Britain pays $90,000,000 annu * .
ally to America and the English col
onies for butter. The people who buy
high-price butter want it sweet and' '
fresh , and this is possible only when1
the cows are eating spring grass. As-
it is not always spring in England it
stands to reason that butter has to be
brought from those places where-
spring is. First the Londoner gets his
butter from west England , Normandy
and Brittany. Then the butter of
northern Denmark follows and Austra
lian butter comes next English winter
is Australian spring.
In a recent lecture by Dr. Charles B.
Dudley , chief chemist of a certain rail
road , it is shown how the costs of the
distinctively little things mount up in
the offices of a large railway system.
For instance , he shows that it costs
the railroad each year about $1,000 for
pins , $5,000 for rubber bands , $5,000
for ink , $7,000 for lead pencils , etc. The
fact that it costs nearly as much for
stationery with which to carry on the
business as it does for iron , as Dr. Dud
ley asserts , is indeed startling. Some
roads have realized the extent of waste
in such directions and have , among
other measures , ordered that a large
part of the communications between
their various officials shall be written
on pads of manila paper instead of oa
regular letter heads.
There is no one from John O'Broat's
to Land's End , England , who bestows
more of his means to philanthropic
causes than Lord Overtoun , to whom
his father , James White , left a fortune ,
closely approaching $10,000,000. Sev
enty-odd years ago the father of Lord
Overtoun and his brother John took
possession of an old soap and soda
works near Rutherglen and converted
it into a. factory for the production of
bichloride of potash. It is related of
the founder of the
business that he was
wont to stand inside the gate of hid
works at night and if he found any
particles of chrome a chemical for
which he received 20 cents a pound in
those days adhering to boots or
clothes he would stop the man with
the remark : "Hey , man ! gang back
and daud your shin. Div ye no see
ye're cairryin * awa' siller when ye cair-
ry crum on yer bitts ? " John Camp
bell White , the present owner of the
chemical works at Rutherglen. was
: reated first Baron Overtoun in 1893 ,
taking the title from his estate in
Dumbartonshire. He was born 5n
L843 and was educated at Glasgow uni-
rerelty. He Is certainly one of the
Duslest men in the country , and besides
jeing a deputy lieutenant and convener
tor Dumbartonshire , Is president of ia-
lumerable religious and philanthropic
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