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The Lost Lady of Lone By Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Sout Characters: 25119

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:02

"Will ye gie me my watch or no?" exclaimed Rose, growing impatient of the whispered colloquy between the jeweller and the policeman in plain clothes, although she was quite unsuspicious of its subject.

"Here it is, madam," said the jeweller, with the utmost politeness, as he came and placed the watch in her hand.

She attached it to her chain and then left the shop.

The policeman sauntered carelessly toward the door and kept his eye covertly upon her.

She got into a four-wheeled cab and drove off.

The policeman hailed a "Hansom," sprang into it, and directed the driver to keep the first cab in sight and follow it to its destination.

Rose, as it was now late in the afternoon, and she was longing for her turbot, green-turtle soup, and roast pheasants and champagne, drove directly home.

Her housekeeper met her at the door with good news.

"A letter from the master, ma'am. The postman brought it soon after you left home," she said, putting another "drop" letter in the hand of her mistress.

"Is dinner ready?" inquired Rose, who was more interested in her meals than in her lover.

"Just ready, ma'am," replied the housekeeper.

"Put it on the table directly, then," said Rose, as she ran up stairs to her own room.

She threw herself into a chair and opened the letter to read it, at her ease.

It was without date and very short. It only informed her that the writer was still detained by "circumstances beyond his control," and enjoined her to wait patiently in her house on Westminster Road, until she should see him.

It was also without signature.

"And there's nae money in it. I dinna ken why he should write to me at a', if he will send me nae money," was the angry comment of Rose, as she impatiently threw the letter into the fire.

Her "improved" circumstances had not taught the peasant girl any refinement of manners. She did not think it at all necessary to change her dress, or even to wash her face after her dusty drive. But when dinner was announced, she went to the table as she had come into the house. And she enjoyed her dinner as only a young person with a perfectly healthful and intensely sensual organization could. She lingered long over her dessert of candied fruits, creams, jellies, and light wines. And when the housekeeper came in at length with the strong black coffee, she made the woman sit down and gossip with her about London life.

While they were so employed, "the boy in buttons," whose duty it was to attend the street door and answer the bell, entered the room and said:

"A gemman down stairs axing to see the missus. I told 'im 'er was at dinner, and mussent be disturbed at meals, which 'e hanswered, and said as 'is business were most himportant, and 'e must see you whether or no, ma'am, which I beg yer parding for 'sturbing yer agin horders."

"It will be a mon frae Johnnie Scott. He'll be fetching me a message or some money. Gae tell him to come in," said Rose, in hopeful excitement.

"Must I bring the gemman up here, missus?" inquired Buttons.

"Ay, ye fule! Where else? Wad ye ask the gentlemon intil the kitchen? And we had na that money rooms to choose fra!" said Rose, impatiently.

And indeed, in that great empty old house, she had but three to her own use-the tawdry scarlet parlor, which was also her dining room; the equally tawdry scarlet chamber; and the dressing-room behind it.

The boy vanished and soon reappeared, ushering in the policeman in plain clothes.

"You will be coming frae Mr. Scott, wi' a message?" said Rose, without rising to receive him.

"No, mum; haven't the pleasure of that gent's acquaintance, though I would like to enjoy it. I come to Mrs. Scott, however, and on particular unpleasant business. What is your full name, mum?" gruffly inquired the policeman, approaching her.

"And what will my name be to you, ye rude mon? And wha ga'ed ye commission to force yersel, on my company at my dinner?" indignantly inquired Rose.

"My commission, as you call it, mum, lies in this warrant, which authorizes me to make a thorough search of these premises for property stolen from Lone Castle on the night of the first of June last."

As the policeman spoke, Rose stared at him with eyes that grew larger, and a face that grew whiter every minute. And as she stared, she suddenly recognized the visitor as the man she had seen in the jeweller's shop, talking with the proprietor while the latter was pretending to be examining the watch she had put in his hand for repairs.

And now the whole truth burst upon her. The watch had been recognized by the jeweller, who perhaps had seen it in Sir Lemuel Levison's possession, or perhaps had had it in his own for cleaning, and he had sent for this policeman in plain clothes, who had followed her home, "spotted" the house, and then taken out a search-warrant. Fright and rage possessed her soul. And oh! in the midst of all, how she cursed her own folly in secreting those dangerous jewels in the house, and her madness in wearing the watch abroad.

"I hope you will submit quietly to the necessary search, mum. It will be the better for you," said the officer.

Then rage got the better of fright in Rose Cameron's distracted bosom.

"I'll tear your e'en out, first, ye-" here followed a volley of expletives not fit to be reported here-"before ye s' all bring me to sic an open shame! Search my house, will ye? Ye daur!" and here the handsome Amazon struck an attitude of resistance.

The policeman went to the front window, threw it up, and beckoned to some persons below.

In two minutes, the sound of footsteps was heard upon the stairs, the door was opened, and a couple of officers entered the room.

Rose Cameron gazed at them in terror and defiance.

"Mrs. Scott, you are my prisoner. We arrest you on the charge of complicity in the murder of Sir Lemuel Levison, and the robbery of Castle Lone!" said the first policeman, laying his hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Tak' yer claws affen me, ye de'il!" exclaimed Rose, springing from under his hand, and then shrinking, shuddering, into the nearest chair.

"Perkins, look after this woman, while I direct the search of the house. You come with me, Thompson. We will go through this room now," said the first policeman, putting his hand on the lock of the chamber door.

"Ye sell na gae into my bedroom, ye de'il! It is na decent for a strange mon to gae into a leddy's chamber!" cried Rose, springing before him to bar his entrance.

"Never mind her, Mr. Pryor; I'll take care of her," said the man called Perkins, as with a firm hand he laid hold of his prisoner, and forced her, screaming, scratching, and resisting with all her might from the door.

"Excuse me, my girl, but this is a murder case, and we must not stand upon politeness to the fair sex; here," added Perkins, as he forced her down upon her chair and held her there so firmly that all she could do was to spit, glare, and rail at him.

"Oh, my dear, good lady, do be quiet. You are in the hands of the law, which I believe you to be as innersent as the dove unborn; but it will be the best for you to submit quietly," said the housekeeper, who had hitherto sat in appalled silence, taking note of the proceedings.

"I will na submit to ony sic indignity," screamed Rose, with an additional torrent of very objectionable language.

Meantime officers Pryor and Thompson passed into the bedroom and began the search. Bureau and bureau drawers, wardrobes, boxes, caskets, cases, were opened, ransacked, and their contents turned out, but no sign of the stolen property was discovered. Closets, wash-stands, and chair cushions next underwent a thorough examination, with a similar result. Then the bed was pulled to pieces, and the mattresses were closely scrutinized, to detect any sign of a recent ripping and re-sewing of any part of the seams through which the stolen jewels might have been pushed in among the stuffing, but evidently the mattresses had not been tampered with.

Then the two officers of the law stopped and looked at each other.

"Before proceeding further in our search, we must be sure as the stolen goods are not in this room," said Pryor.

"I don't know where they can be concealed in this room," said Thompson.

"We must apply our infallible square inch rule, now. Take the inside of this room from floor to ceiling, and search in succession every square inch of it. No matter whether the part under review seems a likely or an unlikely, or even a possible or an impossible place of concealment, search it whether or no. Stolen goods are often found in impossible places, or in what seems to be such," said Pryor.

The search was re-commenced on the new principle, and following the square inch system into an impossible place, they at last came upon the stolen treasure, hidden in the hollow of the cornice at the top of the scarlet window curtains, near the bedstead.

"Here we are! all right! The jewel snuff box, and the solitaire diamond ring. The watch and chain will be found upon her person. This will be sufficient for to-day. We must close and seal these rooms, and place a couple of men on guard here before we take the girl to the station-house," said Pryor, as he carefully bestowed the recovered jewels in the deep breast-pocket of his coat.

The two officers returned to the parlor, where they found Perkins sitting by the prisoner, who was now pallid and quiet, merely because she had raged herself into a state of exhaustion.

"Go and fetch a close cab, Thompson. And you, good woman, fetch your missus' hat and wraps, and whatever else you may think she will need to go to the Police Station-House, and spend the night there. I will also trouble you for that watch and chain, my dear," said Pryor, turning lastly to his prisoner.

"I will na gie my bonny watch! And I will na gae to your filthy station-house, ye-!"

Whew! Inspector Pryor was used to storms of abuse from female prisoners, and could stand them well on most occasions; but now he turned as from a shower of fire, and walked rapidly to the window, while Perkins forcibly took from her the watch and chain, and put them for the present into his own pocket.

Thompson came in to announce the cab, and the housekeeper entered with her mistress's hat and shawl, and a small bundle tied up in a handkerchief.

But Rose stormed and wept, and utterly refused either to put on the hat and shawl, or to enter the cab. Nor could any amount of pursuasion or threats move her obstinacy until she found that the officers of the law were about to take her by force, and without her proper out-door dress.

Then, indeed, she yielded to the coaxing of her housekeeper, and allowed the old woman to prepare her for her compulsory drive.

When she was ready, Inspector Pryor would have escorted her down stairs, but she shook off his hand with angry scorn, and with an expletive that made even his case-hardened ears burn and tingle again.

"If I maun gae, I will gae; but I willna hae your filthy hand on me, ye beastly de'il!" she added, as she reached the cab. She paused an instant, with her foot upon the step, and looked up and down the street, as if she contemplated for a moment a flight for liberty and life; but probably she did not like the prospect of the hue and cry, the pursuit and recapture sure to ensue, for the next instant she stepped into the cab.

That night Rose Cameron passed in the Police Station-House of the Westminster precinct. She had slept in much less comfortable, if more respectable quarters, when she lived in the Highland hut at the foot of Ben Lone.

The officers who had her in charge overlooked all her viciousness in consideration of her youth and beauty, and afforded her every indulgence which their own duty and her safe-keeping permitted. They gave her a cell and a clean cot to herself; and one of them, to whom she gave a sovereign, went out at her orders and bought for her a luxurious and abundant supper.

And Rose-a perfect animal, as I beg leave to remind you-ate heartily and slept soundly, notwithstanding her perils and terrors.

The next morning Rose Cameron was taken before the sitting magistrate of the Police Court at Vincent Square.

The two witnesses from Lone, McNeil, the saddler, who had seen her lurking under the window of the castle at midnight on the night of the murder; and Ferguson, the railway clerk, who had sold her the ticket for the twelve-fifteen express to London, had been summoned by telegr

aph on the day before, had come up by the night train, and were now in court ready to identify the prisoner. Sir Lemuel Levison's house-steward, also summoned by telegraph, was there to identify the stolen jewels which were produced in court. The examination was brief and conclusive. McNeil and Ferguson swore to the woman as being Rose Cameron, and also as being the very woman they had each seen on the night of the murder, under the suspicious circumstances already mentioned.

And McRath swore to the watch and chain, the jewelled snuff-box, and the solitaire diamond ring as the property of his deceased master, worn upon his person on the same night of the murder.

The three policemen swore to finding the stolen property in the possession of the prisoner.

Rose Cameron was incapable of inventing a plausible defence.

When asked how this property came into her possession, she said she had picked up the watch and chain found upon her person, on the sidewalk, on Westminster Road, where she supposed the owner must have dropped it, and as she did not know who the owner might be, she had kept it, to her sorrow. But as for the gold snuff-box and the solitaire diamond ring, she did not know anything about them; she had never seen them in her life, until they were drawn out of the hollow cornice by Inspector Pryor, and where they must have been hidden by somebody else.

This explanation was not received. And before the morning was over, Rose Cameron was remanded to her cell in the police station-house to wait until she could be taken back to Scotland for trial.

When she reached her cell, she gave herself up to a passion of hysterical weeping and sobbing.

She was interrupted by a visit from her friendly housekeeper.

"My poor, dear, injured lady, I was here early this morning to see you, but could not get in," said the woman, after the first exciting greetings were over.

"Sit ye down. Dinna staund, and tire yersel'," said the poor creature, glad to see any familiar face.

"Oh, my good young lady, you were always very kind to me. And I never can believe as you've had anything to do with what you are accused of," said the good woman, weeping.

"And sae I hadna. I dinna ken onything anent it. As for yon braw boxie, I ne'er set een on it, na, nor the fine ring, till the policeman pu'ed it doon frae the tap o' the window curtain. And the fine watch, they fund on me, and said belongit to Sir Lemuel Levison; that watch waur gied to me by a gude freend," said Rose, wiping the great tears from her stormy eyes.

"I will believe it, my good young lady. I can very well believe it. I see how you have been imposed upon by bad people; but do you keep a stiff upper lip, madam, and don't be in no ways cast down, and your innercence will come like pure gold from the furniss, as the saying is. And now, my dear young lady, I have some news for you, as will help to divert your mind from your troubles, I hope," said the well-meaning woman, soothingly.

"Is it about Johnnie Scott? Is it about my gude mon?" eagerly inquired Rose.

"No, my dear young lady, it is not about him. You remember the marriage that was broken off, for the time between the young Marquis of Arondelle and the heiress of Lone?"

"Yes! broken off by the murder of the bride's feyther, the nicht before the wedding day-the murder o' Sir Lemuel Levison, wi' whilk I now staund accusit. Ou, aye, I mind it! I am na likely to forget it!" sharply answered Rose Cameron.

"Well, my dear young lady, the marriage is on again."

"Eh!" exclaimed Rose Cameron, springing up.

"Yes, my dear young lady. You know I always take time to look over the morning papers that are left at the house for you, and this morning I read that a grand marriage would take place at St. George's, Hanover Square, between the young Duke of Hereward-he who was Marquis of Arondelle before his father's death-and the heiress of the late Sir Lemuel Levison. And how, after the ceremony, there would be a breakfast at the bride's house, and then how the happy pair would set out for their wedding tower."

While the well-meaning housekeeper was speaking, Rose Cameron was staring at her in dumb amazement.

"I brought the paper in my pocket, ma'am, thinking, under all the circumstances, it would interest you and help to make you forget your own troubles. Would you like to read it for yourself?"

"Yes! gie me the paper," cried Rose, snatching it from the housekeeper before the latter could hand it.

"Where's the place? Where's the place?" cried the impatient young woman, wildly turning the pages.

"Here it is ma'am. At the top of the 'Fashionable News,'" said the landlady, pointing out the item.

Rose pounced upon it, and read aloud:

"The marriage of His Grace, the Duke of Hereward, with Miss Levison, only daughter and heiress of the late Sir Lemuel Levison, will be celebrated at twelve, noon, to-day, at St. George's, Hanover Square. After the ceremony the noble party will adjourn to Elmhurst House, Westbourne Terrace, the home of the bride, to partake of the wedding breakfast, after which the happy pair will leave town by the tidal train for Dover, en route for their continental tour."

Rose Cameron threw down the paper and sprang to her feet with the bound of a tigress.

"Oh, the villain! Oh, the shamfu', fause, leeing villain! This wad be the important business that kept him awa' frae me! This wad be the reason why he got me lockit up in prison here-for I ken weel that he pit the dogs o' the law on my track noo, if I dinna ken before-to keep me fra getting out to ban his marriage noo, as I wad ha banned it then hadna something else dune it for me. But it isna too late yet! I'll ban his wedding travels, gin I couldna ban his wedding! I'll bring him down to disgrace and shame afore a' his graund wedding guests-the fause-hearted, leeing, shamefu' villain! I will pu' him down frae his grandeur yet, gin ye will only help me!" exclaimed Rose Cameron, pouring out this torrent of words, as she strode up and down the narrow floor of her cell with the stride of an enraged lioness.

"My dear, good young lady, I don't know, the least in the world, why you should get so excited over the young duke's marriage," said the housekeeper, gazing in amazement and terror upon the face of the infuriated young creature.

"Why suld I get excited o'er it, indeed?" exclaimed Rose, stopping suddenly in her furious stride, and confronting her unoffending visitor with a scowl of rage.

"Come now; come now;" murmured the woman, soothingly, for she began to fear that she was in the presence, and in the power, of a lunatic.

"Dinna yo ken then, ye auld fule, that the Dooke o' Hareward is my ain gude mon?" imperiously demanded Rose.

"Oh, her poor head! Her poor head is going, and no wonder, poor lass!" murmured the old woman, compassionately.

"But how suld ye ken?" cried Rose, scornfully throwing herself down into her seat again. "He ca'ed himsel' Mr. John Scott. Mr. John Scott! And mysel' Mrs. John Scott. And sae ye kenned us, and nae itherwise."

"Poor girl! Poor girl!" murmured the housekeeper. "She's far gone! Far gone! Poor girl!"

"Puir girl, is it? It will be puir dooke before a' is ended! I'll hae him hanggit for trigomy, or what e'er ye ca' the marryin' o' twa wives at ance. Twa wives! Ou! I'll nae staund it! I'll nae staund it!" cried Rose, suddenly bounding to her feet.

"Come now! Come now! my dear, good young lady," said the housekeeper, coaxingly.

"Ye'll nae believe it! Ye'll nae believe he's my ain gude mon wha has marrit the heiress the morn? Look here, then! And look here! And look here!" continued the girl, impetuously, as she took a small morocco letter-case from her bosom and opened it, and took out one after another-a parchment, a letter, and a photograph.

"Yes, dear, I'll look at anything you like," said the housekeeper, with a sigh, for she thought she was only humoring a lunatic.

"Here's my marritge lines. And I was marrit here, in Lunnun town, at a kirk ye ca' St. Margaret's, by a minister ca'ed Smith. It's a' doon here in the lines. Look for yoursel'. Ye can read. See! Here will be my name, Rose Cameron. And here will be my gudeman's-de'il ha'e him!-Archibald-Alexander-John Scott, Marquis of Arondelle. And here will be the minister's name at the fut-James Smith; and the witnesses-John Jones, clerk, and Ann Gray, (she waur an auld body in a black bonnet and shawl). Noo! is that a' richt and lawfu'?" demanded Rose, triumphantly.

"Indeed, ma'am, it looks so!" said the perplexed housekeeper. And these indiscreet words burst from her lips, almost without her own volition-"But the idea of the young Marquis of Arondelle marrying of you in downright earnest is beyond belief! It is, indeed!"

"And what for nae?" cried Rose, angrily. "What for nae, wad he nae marry me, if he lo'ed me? He wad na hae me without marritge ye suld ken."

"No offence, my dear young madam. None at all. I was only astonished, that's all," said the housekeeper, deprecatingly, though she wondered and doubted whether all she heard and saw was truth.

"And, here! See here! Here is a letter I got frae him sune after the wedding. Ye ken the Dooke o' Harewood was Markiss o' Arondelle time when he married me?"

"Yes, so it seems," said the housekeeper.

"Aweel then, see here. This letter begins-'My ain dear Wifie,' ye mind?-'My ain dear Wifie'-and gaes on wi' a lot o' luve, and a' that, whilk I need na read, till ye. And it ends, look here-'Your devoted husband-Arondelle.' There! what do ye think o' that?"

"I'm so astonished, ma'am, I don't know what to think."

"But ye ken weel noo, that my gude mon wha ca'ed himsel' John Scott, was the Markiss o' Arondelle, and is noo the Dooke of Harewood?"

"Yes, ma'am, I know that!-that is, if I'm awake and not dreaming," added the woman.

"And ye ken weel that the Dooke of Harewood hae get me lappet up here in prison sae I canna get out to prevent him ha'eing his wicked will, in marrying the heiress o' Lone?"

"I know that, too, ma'am-that is, if I'm not dreaming, as I said before," answered the bewildered old woman.

"Aweel, noo, I canna get out to forestal this graund wickedness. The shamefu' villain took gude care to prevent that, but I can circumvent him, for a' that, gin ye will help me, Mrs. Brown. Will ye?"

"You may be sure o' that, my poor young lady; for if things be as they seem, you have suffered much wrong," earnestly answered the woman.

"Aweel, then, tak' my marritge lines, my letter, and this likeness o' my laird-and may the black de'il burn him in-"

"Oh, my dear child, don't say that. It is dreadful. Tell me what I am to do with these papers and this picture."

"First of a', ye'll be very carefu' o' 'em, and be sure to bring them back safe to me."

"Yes, surely, my dear; but what am I to do with them?"

"Ye'll get a cab, and tak' the papers and the picture to the bride's house, and ask to see the bride alone, on a matter o' life and death. And ye maun tak' nae denial. Ye maun see her, and tell her anent mysel' here, betrayed into prison sae I canna come to warn her. And show her my marritge lines, and my letter, and my laird's pictur'-the foul fien' fly awa' wi' him!-and tell her, gin she dinna believe them, to gae to the auld kirk o' St. Margaret's, Wes'minster, and look at the register, and see the minister, Mr. Smith, and the clerk, Mr. Jones, and the auld bodie, Mrs. Gray, and she'll find out anent it! Will ye do this for me?"

"Yes, I will, my dear child."

"Here is a half-sovereign then to pay for the cab hire. And, oh! be sure ye tak' unco gude care o' my papers! They's a' my fortun', ye ken."

"Yes, indeed, I know how important they are to you, and I will bring them back safe," said the housekeeper, as she put the marriage certificate, the letter, the portrait, and the money in her pocket, and arose to leave the cell.

"And noo, we'll see, an' I dinna bring ye to open shame, ye graund de'il!" exclaimed Rose.

"I don't blame your anger, my poor dear, but don't use bad words. And now I am off. Good-day to you until I see you again," said the woman, as she left the cell.

Mrs. Brown was a good woman, but she did delight in hearing and retailing gossip, and in making and seeing a sensation; so she rather enjoyed her errand to Westbourne Terrace. She was also a brave woman, so she did not shrink from meeting the high-born bridegroom and the bride with her overwhelming revelations.

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