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.1 '. i./'- ' ■ :■■ : ; "■ ■:'' " ' ' s '» ROMANTIC STORY OF' a' WOMAN'S \ TWO HUSBANDS. • ' "DEAD" IN THE CONGO. Many stories >of domestic unhappiness and sundered married lives were told in the ! London Divorce Court recently. So much romance and drama are contained in one that it might be the concoction.' of a sensational novelist instead of a. puzzle set out for solution before Sir Gorell Barnes. Briefly, the story is • this: A military officer leaves his wife for the Congo, six months after their secret marriage. She reads in a French newspaper ■ that he is dead. Many years after, she marries again. A detective brings the news that her first husband is in England. The second husband arranges an interview between the woman and the man who calls himself her husband. In a . sensational scene the officer declares the woman is his wife. She says she has never seen him. He leaves England, while the second hus-band-brings a suit for the dissolution of the marriage. . The suit was set out as the petition of. James Gilbey Vokins, son of Mr. Theodore Vokins, the picture dealer, of King-street, St. James', for a dissolution of a marriage contracted in 1903 with Annie Doreen Grace Burrows, widow of an officer named Burrows, the son of General Burrows, of Leamington. The officer mentioned is Captain Guy Burrows, who published, a couple of years ago, a sensational ' book on the Congo, called " The Curse of . Central Africa." This book involved him in a libel action, in which lie was mulcted in £500 damages and costs. - ■ ;; , , DIED IN AFRICA. According to Mr. Willock, counsel for Mr. Vokins, this gentleman married Mrs; Burrows at St. Giles': Church in 1903, she saying she was the widow of a man who had died in Africa many years before. They lived together until April last year. One day Mrs. Vokins happened to be at her father-in-law's office, when she was handed a mysterious letter. It was a communication from a private inquiry agent, asking her to call on him "on a private matter." She handed the letter to her husband. He called on the detective, and the astonishing statement was made to him that Captain Burrows had " turned up." , The detective suggested that he might be "squared," as he wanted money. Both Mr. Vokins and his wife thought it was a fictitious story, "put up" for ulterior purposes, and paid no attention to it. A few weeks later they received a letter from a solicitor, who stated that Captain Guy Burrows was his client, and suggested that Mrs. Vokins should give him a call in a matter seriously affecting herself. No attention was paid to this, and the matter remained in abeyance for a fortnight, when Mr. *Vokins' father received a Tetter from the same solicitor asking for the address of his son, and stating that he wished to serve papers for divorce proceedings on him. PROOFS DESTROYED. When Mr. Vokins found himself serve-? with divorce papers he determined to sift the matter. His father asked Mrs. i'ok'ns for proofs of her former husband's death. She said they had been destroyed. ~ The matter was then put in the hands of the family solicitors, who decided that it were best to confront all the parties. Accordingly an interview was arranged at the offices of Messrs. Dodd, Langstaffe, and Co. This strange dramatic meeting was attended by Captain Burrows, a friend named Hedley, Mrs. Vokins, her and Captain Burrows' solicitor. Mr. Vokins, knowing the scene must under any circumstances be exceedingly painful, walked up and down outside the office while it was in progress. Mr. Langstaffe, the solicitor, formally introduced the parties, and then asked Captain Burrows point-blank if Mrs. Vokins were his wife. ~' His reply was "Yes." "'Where were you married?" said the solicitor. ; "At a Marylebone' registry office in 188 i). My friend will also identify her."'' Mr. Hedlev then declared that he had no doubts whatever on the matter, adding that he had "known the lady some years." Then the solicitor addressed the woman again: "Is all this true, Mrs. Vokins?" he. asked. "I do not know him," was the reply. Then, according to counsel, a curious tiling happened. As Mrs. Vokins left the room, she is said to have remarked to her sister: "He hasn't altered much." ' ' The solicitor overheard this, and interposed : "Do ; you still persist in your denial, Mrs. Vokins?" She replied : "No. I thought he was dead. But he must not know my address." captain nrnnows leaves. "Then where is Captain Burrows now?' asked the judge. Mr. Willock told the court that he was in Paris, and that his father was a very old man whom 'they had not been able to get as a witness. Mr. Vokins then entered the box. He stated that when he told his wife Captain Burrows was alive she said: "Impossible !" "•"*"- Mr. Langstaffe, the solicitor who conducted the interview, swore that Captain Burrows handed him a card with his name and the words, " Late 7th Fusiliers." He was severely cross-examined as to the statement Mrs. Vokins was alleged to have made to her sister, and he declared that it was not — that is Captain Burrows he has altered very much." He continued that Captain Burrows was perfectly sober, and could in no way be described as "muddled.'' wife's DENIALS. Then Mrs. Vokins, a. pretty woman, entered the box, audi tola the story of her marriages. The first, she said, was a secret one, performed at a registry office, and Captain Burrows left Tier in six months. She saw his death announced in a Paris paper, and believed it. The man introduced to her in the solicitors' room was not her husband, and was altogether a " muddled" person. She never knew Mr. Hedley, she said. >. -*. She affirmed-that the words attributed to her by Mr. Langstaffe on leaving after the interview were mainly concocted, tone separated from Captain Burrows, she said, because he was such a drunkard. Her opinion now is that Mr. Vokins is "decidedly" trying to get rid of her. In reply to the judge, she emphatically declared that the man she met at the solicitors' was not her husband. Sir Gorell Barnes stated that he must have some proof that Captain Burrows is alive, and that he would have to adjourn the case to determine ibis. Counsel explained that the difficulty lay in his having disappeared from. civilisation for so many years, and that his father would have nothing to do with him now. "It is extremely probable that he is the man, but I must be certain. Some members of his family must know him," concluded- the judge.

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New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Herald, Volume XLII, Issue 13051, 16 December 1905

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DIVORCE COURT MYSTERY. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLII, Issue 13051, 16 December 1905