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AN INNOCENT JUDAS.

[By Charles Pbocior.] {Continued from Wednesday’s Issue.) CHAPTER VII. XHE SAVING OF MARIOS. To Marion live news of Raeburn’s resignation came as something of a shock and as a revelation. Until then she had not dreamt that the consequences of her innocent betrayal would bo so far-reaching, hud imagined that Radsmi had; magnihedi ■,cr otfence and spoken with undue harshness Only when she read in the newsuipcrs that be bail resigned did site realise ihat she had inadvertently been the cause of wrecking his career, aiid, knowing has love of power and his twiwwknw ambition she understood to eon-e extent how re must feel, and why he had been so passionately angry. ... . Something hke remorse Rented her as she thought of all this, .and tried to imagine Raeburn’* • feelings on finding Imnsolt ruined politically and forced to resign, and for a time pity for the man she loved made her forget his scornful words. Then came a desire to clear herself, to put hexself right in his eyes, to prove to him that ©ho had not wilfully betrayed his confidence, and In ought about the catastiophe. Her first iuiplse. when the true state of affairs dawned upon her, was to ■'O to Raeburn, lo explain and ask Ins pardon, but almost at once she recog-niso-ci that her action might be miswiKto* ,-tood. and she decided to write. "How could he think that I would wilfully bet-rav him'.' ’ she asked, for the hundredth time. “He might have trusted me—waited —given mo a chance to explain. Surely he will be sorry when he realises that' i was a victim of mroum-s-tance#—that I was betrayed as well as

She wrot© a long letter, explaining ©vwrvthing, shifting the blame to the proper shoulders, expressing her regret and begging his forgiveness, bnt once a«ain her womanly pride—and her consideration for her aunt—-stopped her. "it ©e©ms so mean, she reflected, as she read what she had written. "to bianic my aunt for everything when I should realJv hav© kept Raeburns secret. I don’t want him to think so badly of me. don’t want him to go on believing that 1 deceived and betrayed him, but-, alterwnat he said I can’t—l can’t send this. My aunt was always kind lo me. If she had known the troth I feel sure she would not lave sold the information. She did not know ©he was harming me. and I might do her. an injury- by denouncing her now. If Raeburn had' really loved me he would t.oi have been so quick condemn, so ready to break. No, I can’t send this and s; ein to b© appealing.” She tore np the lengthy explanation, and tor u long time ©at lost in tought. then at hist she took up her pen again and daehed -:lf a note: "Dear Raeburn,—l am deeply sorry. 1 tod no intention of injuring, you, anti did i ni realise 1 was betraying a confidence. 1 did not wilfully betray you. and you have misjudged mo. Forgive me for any injury I may inadvertently hav© done you. - Sincerely yours. Marion Lancaster. 3 ’ The letter did not satisfy her, but it waa a .sort of compromise between what- she would have liked to say and what her pride bad© her write, and finally it was [mated without alteration. '•Will he understand ?” Marlon wondered. and although she was alone, the hot color flooded her pale face. ** Perhaps he will come here —com© to find out tfie truth. Perhaps h© has already forgiven m©, and is sorry for his hard v/ords."

She almost lea red —but there was a strain of hope in the fear —that .Raeburn would seek her out immediately, and wondered 'now she should receive him, what, she should say, how she should act. On the following evening, by the last post, his answer came. She knew the writing at a glance—he had written once or twice to her while she had been with her aunt—and her hands trembled and her heart throbbed as she opened the envelope. Then, as she read the note, her hand went up to her throat in an effort to stop the cry that forced itself to her lips, and she sank back in her chair, her facte white almost as the paper she held in her shaking fingers. “Bad news, Miss Lancaster?” asked one of the boarders, solicitously, and Marion pulled herself together to find that the eyes of ail the inmates of th© hoarding-house sitting room were fixed upon her. “ Not—not exactly.; a—a surprise.” sh© responded, unsteadily, rising to her feet and trying bravely to smile. “It was silly of me to cry out. Excuse me.” She stood still for a few moments to reaver herself, then went out slowly and ascended the stairs to her own room. Sitting down heavily, ahe spread out the note again and read it once more, although every word seemed to be stabbing her heart. Raeburn, with Mrs Ar-nold-Power’s words still rankling, had dashed off the answer on the impulse of the moment and in a white heat of resentment :

” Mr Raeburn Chesterton Is obliged by Miss Lancasters expression of regret, and l opes she is making good use of the ‘ 30 pieces of silver.’” The cruel, satirical words swam before Marion's eves as she flung herself down hy the bedside in an abandon of tearless but agonising grief, not nnmixed with rinser and self-pity. ‘‘■How dare hoi How dare ho!” she whispered, again and again, clenching her hands and teeth, and quivering with pain. “ He believe* the worst of me. He never loved me. Oh, God help me!** On the following morning, when she presented herself at Albany Studios, she tried to appear as usual, but Mark Sampson’s quick eyes noted the exceptional pallor, the dark circles round the grey eyes, with a hint of pain in them, and saw that the smile on the sweet lips was forced.

“ You are not. looking well this morn Ing. Miss Lancaster, ’’ hr remarked gravely.

“ I—f did not sleep welt,” said Marion, • hastily, flushing suddenly. “ But I am quite well, really.” " Better take a holiday to-day.” suggested Mark. “ I don't feel mnt-h like ■work, and a day in the country would do you good, I am sure. Miss Lancaster.”

" Ton are very kind, Mr Sampson, but really T would much rather work.” responded Marion. “ There ia a lot of typing to do, and I should hate to spend a day alone in the country to-day. Work hj the boat tonic, and unless you really don’t want me I’ll start- at once.” “ As yon please. Mies Lancaster," said Mark Sampson. with a smile and a shrug of his big shoulders; “but take it easy.”

fie picked up his pipe, plunged it into a jar of tobacco that stood on the mantelshelf, filled it, then stood puffing out clouds of smoke and watching Marion as she settled down quietly to work.

"She’s worrying about somethingwants cheering up,” he commented inwardly between puffs. “ I’ll get some of the boys up here this afternon—get old Rreakspear to play—introduce the whole crowd. They have ail been confoundedly shy these last few days since she came, and we must make her feel that she is among friends. It must be confoundedly lonely for the poor girl to be all alone ;n London without friends or relations ” he had gathered so much from Marion in course of conversation—“and. there isn’t much fun in pothooks and typewriter kevs.”

He went out quietly to do a round of th° studios—and all unconsciously to begin the work of saving Marion from the T) ernnn so well did he succeed in his mission that before lunch time Marion had been introduced to five young men who had “dropped in” on various pretexts.

“ Have you any engagement this evening. Miss Lancaster?” queried Mark Sampson in what was intended to be an off-hand manner during the course of the afternoon; “I mean could you stay a little later than' usual ?”

“ Yes, certainly, if you have some work yon wish, me to do,” answered Marion. “ Oh, I don’t want you to do any weak,” explained Mark hastily. “I was going

(of taking tea with us. You, see, every now and again we—l mean all the men hero —have ' tea together in each other’s rooms—and it is my turn to-day. I should like you to know the fellows here —they are all good, chaps—like you to feel that you are not an outsider although you happen to be a lady. They all seem to expect you to stay this afternoon, and I shall take it as a favor if you will. Breakapear—you haven’t met Breakapear yet,—ls an excellent musician, and I can 'promise you some good music if you stay, although my old piano there has seen its best davs. All the boys will be on their best behaviour, and I am a lire yon will enjoy it.” “ I hardly think," began. Marion, hardly knowing how to word her refusal, “ I hardly think I should stay, Mr Sampson: I am afraid my presence would act as a restraint ” '

“Not at all!” protested Mark. “I assure you they are all Very keen on your staying, and will be disappointed if you refits©.”

“Very well. T shall be" pleased to accept the kind invitation,” said Marion, realising that it would seem ungracious to decline : “ and I will try not to be u wet blanket.”

“ Good. I’ll go and see Margery Daw ” —everyone in Albany .Studios called old Mrs Daw. the housekeeper, “ Margery Daw ” —‘ ‘ and send her for some things I want; then perhaps you will help me to set the table. He went off, highly elated at the success of his scheme and bright as a schoolboy on his way to a “ treat,” to despatch Mrs Daw for provisions, little dreaming that Marion was wishing that she could find some excuse to retract Ijer promise to stay, for she felt utterly miserable and in little humor for company. She was sitting brooding and dreaming when Mark returned, accompanied by one of the young men he had introduced in the morning, Granville Dermott. by name, a goodlooking fellow with pale face, dark eyes, and long, black hair. “ Dermott insisted on coming up, Miss Lancaster,” explained Mark, smilingly: “at least, he says he wants to help, but I believe he has designs on the sardines—wants to start before the others arrive.” “I crotest !” cried Dermott. “Miss Lancaster, 1 assure you this man dragged me away by brute force from my work on a masterpiece that is to startle the world—dragged me away from Art with a big •A ’ to perform the duties of a scullion. He came in blubbering about being a poor cripple with only one arm—did the big brute tell you be broke his arm playing football, and him old enough to know belter?—and when 1 protested that Art and I were inseparable he crabbed me bv the back of the neck with nis one poor weak hand and dragged me away from my masterpiece ” “Puzzle picture, you mean." interposed Mark. “He calls himself an Impressionist, Miss Lancaster; shuts his eyes and makes dabs at the canvas, theri walks backwards until he is brought up by the wall. They hung his last picture upside down, and'he didn’t notice, the difference himself until he found that his signature was in the top corner.” “ 1 don’t know how voir expect mo to work if you persist in 'this terrible argument,” exclaimed Marion, looking from one man to another and laughing at the good-natured chaff ; “ and 1 don’t believe either of you.”

"Miss Lancaster, how cun you!” ejaculated Dermott, assuming a look of mock horror. ‘‘This man’s baneful influence—his' fearful stories ”

" Dry up. you stump orator, and get the dishes out.” interrupted Mark. “ You run on like a gramophone record. Did I bear you mention work. Miss Lancaster? No more work to-day. Cover up the machine, put it down in the corner behind the couch, and help me to spread the table cloth. T have spoken." " Ave Caesar—and down with the typewriter!” cried Dermott. picking up the machine, and Marion stared amazedly for a moment, then laughed in a manner that rejoiced the heart of her employer. Dermott. and Marion laid the table, cloth while Mark rummaged in the cupboard and brought out crockeiy, spoons, and two teapots, one minus half a spout. “Here. I say, Dermott. wc have only four cups and saucers,” exclaimed Mark, after taking an inventory. “Go and commandeer two or three more—ah. here’s Rowland.” Another man. big, red-faced, and raw-boned, had strolled in to find himself seized instantly by tho host. “ Rowland, my dear old chap, for the sake of your dear old friend with one arm and four teacups, lend me some cups and saucers,” implored Mark. “If you haven’t got more than one yourself, beg, borrow, or steal some somewhere, or you will have to drink your tea out of a wine glass.” ■‘ O’Rourke has a whole teaset." said Rowland, who spoke with a north country accent, turning away at once. “ The bloated capitalist!” cried Dermott. “ Raid his treasure-houso, Rowland.”

Howland departed, and presently returned ■with four or five cups and saucers, and with O'Rourke, a little, stoutly-built, round-faced Irishman, with small, doepset, twinkling eyes and an amazing crop of red hair. “ Thieves and villainsexclaimed O’Rourke, shaking his fist at Mark. “ Begging your pardon. Miss Lancaster, for using the right names for the ruffians, but it's me wedding china that they’re after stealing—the only thing I have towards the home after saving for years and years.” " Your wedding china?” queried Marion, now thoroughly roused out of herself and highly amused. ” The same, if y© please,” replied O’Rourke solemnly. *“ ft was a—legacy from me poor cousin that kept a chiny shop. He presented them to me when he was about to go bankrupt and before his creditors took possession- ‘ Patrick,’ he says—Patrick is me maiden name. Miss Lancaster —‘Patrick,’ he says, .‘you’ll be married one day when ye’re not thinking about anything of the sort, God help ye,’ he says, ‘and this chiny ’ ” The rest of his story was drowned In a roar of laughter, and the entrance of Mrs Daw, carrying a big basket and puffing vigorously, created a further diversion that prevented him from continuing. Following in the wake of Mrs Daw came two men—one in a velvet jacket, the other in a very light suit with ink marks and paint marks on the sleeves. “ ’Era you are, Mr Sampson,” said Mrs Daw, dumping down the basket, and beginning to take out her purchases. “ There’s the tea, and there's the bread, and there’s the soap—no, it ain’t soap, it's cheese, and as nice a bit of cheese as I’ve tasted, I will say. for Mr Wilkins as keeps the shop he says ‘ Taste and try before you buy, Mrs Daw,’ which I did, and ain’t ashamed to own it, especially as he didn’t weigh it before I tasted it—and there's the sardines, and there’s the salmon with a very nice picture on the label, and there’s the fruit, and there’s the butter,, and I ’opes you won't all ’ave indigestion when you’ve done. And there's your change, Mr Sampson, and I ain’t forgotten a thing as I knows of. which shows that my memory is better than some folks wbpt ain't gone through half what I’ve donev” “ Hooray !” chorused Dermott O’Rourke and Rowland, and ‘‘Bravo, Margery Daw 1” cried Mark Sampson.

“ Behave yourselves,” exclaimed Mrs Daw. with hauteur, picking up her basket. “ A nice way to carry on before a lady. They're just like a lot of wild boys. Miss Lancaster, and I’m sure I hopes you’ll be able to keep them in order.” “ Now come along, you chaps; get a move ou!” commanded Mark, as Mrs Daw retired. “I’m running this show, and if you want any tea you must obey orders. You, Rowland, open these tins and bring forth the succulent fishes—and don’t let mo catch you stealing any' You, Dermott, wash out those teapots.” “Am I a dog?” demanded Dermott, in mook heroic manner. ;

“No, but you will-, develop,” retorted Mark calmly. “ Miss Lancaster will make the tea as soon as the kettle boils, and meanwhile will cut the bread. \ ou, Stanley, go and summon the laggard guests, and tell them to bring their own chairs with them, ’cause there aren’t enough to go round; and you, Browne, can carve the loaf that Miss Lancaster isn't using. I tell you, if this tea-fight isn’t a huge success it won’t be for want of good stage management,”

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141024.2.29

Bibliographic details

AN INNOCENT JUDAS., Issue 15632, 24 October 1914

Word Count
2,775

AN INNOCENT JUDAS. Issue 15632, 24 October 1914

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