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It is believed that the origin of the great fire at George and George’s, in Melbourne, has now been discovered. Amongst the employes of the firm was a clerk named Watkins, who was performing the duties of bookkeeper. In spite of •> ho fact that he ■was a married man with a young family, it would appear that bis life teas not as circumspect as it should have been; and not many months since his attentions to a barmaid in a city hotel became so marked that his wife, hearing of the entanglement, was induced, as a last resource, to seek the protection of his employers. As a consequence of her representations to Messrs George and George, Watkim was informed that he must either resign his situation or at once relinquish his platonic attachment. Ho promised, naturally enough, to adopt the latter course, and as almost immediately afterwards the young lady obtained a situation in Ballarat, the more credence was attached to his protestations of reform. 11 would, seem, however, that Watkins still kept up a clandestine correspondence with the object of his affections, and curiously enough it was chiefly owing to this fact that his share in the destruction of the Federal Emporium was discovered. On the night of the fire he had prepared a letter and parcel

for the young lady, and on going out remembered that he had forgotten to stamp the letter. Ho used a match to relight the gas, and threw it away without noticing where it went, and it is believed that this caused the fire. He has made varying statements, however, and ia sure to he put under severe cross-examination at the inquest.

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Bibliographic details

THE GREAT FIRE IN MELBOURNE., Issue 8027, 2 October 1889

Word Count

THE GREAT FIRE IN MELBOURNE. Issue 8027, 2 October 1889

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