T. W. (Thomas Wilkinson) Speight.

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RAFtY

OF THE

UN IVLRSITY

or ILLINOIS

Sp52s
V.2



A SECRET OF THE SEA.



1 |?obd.



By T. W. SPEIGHT,

AUTHOR OF
IN THE dead" OF NIGHT," "UNDER LOCK AND KEY," ETC., ETC.



IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. IL




LONDON :
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON.
1876.

{All Rights Reserved.)




CONTENTS OF VOL. II.



HAPTIR

I. MIRIAM BYRNE



n. FLOATING WITH THE STREAM
m. A QUIET CUP OF TEA
IV. FASCINATION .
V. EASTER HOLIDAYS .
VI. A SECRET OF THE SEA

viL pod's revelation .

VIIL A GLASS OF BURGUNDY
IX. THE STORY OF THE WRECK
X. GERALD'S CONCESSION
XI. KELVIN'S ILLNESS
Xn. RECOGNITION .



. 1
. 26

. 53
. 73

. 100
. 129
. 148
. 172
. 196
. 221
. 245
_. 261



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/secretofseanovel02spei




A SECKET OF THE SEA.



:,^^c



CHAPTER I.



MIRIAM BYRNE.



ft^^^^fiT was nearly dusk on the eighth
1^ ^ day after Peter Byrne and his
l^^.o.^! daughter had got settled in their
new rooms, when Grerald War-
burton knocked at the door of Max Van
Duren's house.

"Is my father at home ?" asked Gerald
of the middle-aged woman who answered
his summons.

'* If you are Mr. Byrne's son, I was told
to send you upstairs w^hen you called/^

VOL. II. 1



2 A SECI^ET OF THE SEA.

answered the woman. " The first floor,
please — door with the brass handle."

It was at Byrne's request that Gerald
agreed to pass as his son on the occasion of
any visits which he might have to make to
Van Daren's house. Gerald could see no
reason for the assumption of such a rela-
tionship, but in the belief that Byrne might
have some special motive in the matter, he
acceded without difiiculty.

Up the stairs he now went, and knocked
at the door indicated by the woman.
" Come in," cried a voice, and in he went.

He paused for a moment or two just
inside the room, and shut the door slowly
after him while his eyes took in the various
features of the scene.

The room in which Gerald found himself
was of considerable size, and was lighted by
three tall, narrow windows, curtained with
heavy hangings of faded crimson velvet.
The walls were painted a delicate green,
and the floor was of polished wood. There
was a large old-fashioned fire-place, and a
heavy, over-hanging marble chimney-piece.



MIRIAM B YRNE. 3

across the front of which was carved a wild
procession of Bacchic figures. A Turkey
carpet covered the middle of the floor, but
the sides of the room were left bare.
Chairs, tables, and bureau were of dark
•oak, heavy, uncouth, uncompromisino- —
and if not really antique, were very good
Wardour Street imitations of the genuine
article. On one side of the hearth, how-
ever, stood a capacious, modern easy-chair, for
the special delectation of Mr. Peter Byrne,
while in neighbourly proximity to it was
the long-stemmed pipe with the china bowl.
On the opposite side of the hearth stood
another article, that seemed nure out of
keeping with the rest of the room, even,
than the easy-chair. It was a couch or
lounge of the most modern fashion, and
upholstered with a gay flowery chintz.
There could be no doubt as to the person
for whose behoof this gay piece of furniture
was intended. Stretched on the floor in
front of it, and doing duty as a rug, was a
magnificent tiger-skin. On this stood an
embroidered footstool. At the back of the

1—2



4 A SECRET OF J HE SEA.

couch was a screen painted with Chinese
figures and landscapes. Near it hung a
guitar.

Gerald advanced slowly into the room,
and for a moment or two he altogether failed
to recoofnize the man who rose out of the
easy-chair to greet him. It was Byrne :
and yet it was not Byrne. " It must be
his father, or an older brother," said Gerald
to himself. Even when the man held out
his hand and whispered : "Is there any-
body outside the door?" he was still in
doubt.

" There is no one outside the door," said
Gerald. " I came up the stairs alone."

"That's all right, then, and I'm very
glad to see you, Mr. Warburton," said
Byrne's familiar voice, after which there
could no longer be any doubt. ^'Not a
bad make up, eh?" he added, with a
chuckle, as he noted Gerald's puzzled look.

" I certainly did not know you at first,'^
replied the latter. " In fact, I took you
for your own father."

" You could not pay me a higher compli-



MIRIAM BYRNE. 5

ment, sir," said Byrne, with a gleeful rub-
bing of the hands. ''It is part of the
scheme I have in view, that Van Duren
should take me to be an old man, very
feeble, very infirm, and nearly, if not quite,
on my last legs."

"You look at the very least twenty-
years older than when I last saw you,"
remarked Gerald.

" And yet the transformation is a very
simple matter," said Byrne. " It would
not do to tell everybody how it's done, but
from you I can have no secrets of that kind.
In the first place, I had my own hair
cropped as closely as it was possible for
scissors to do it. Then I had this vene-
rable wig made with its straggling silvery
locks, and this black velvet skull cap.
Two-thirds of my teeth being artificial
ones, I have dispensed with that portion
of them for the time being, and that of
itself is sufficient to entirely alter the cha-
racter of the lower part of my face. Then
this dress — this gaberdine-like coat down
tto my knees, my collar of an antique



6 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

fashion, my white, unstarched neck-cloth,,
fastened with a Uttle pearl brooch, this
stoop of the shoulders, my enfeebled walk,
and the stick that I am obligfed to use
to help me across the room : all simple
matters, my dear sir, but, in the aggregate,
decidedly effective/'

Mr. Byrne omitted to mention that, as a
conscientious artist bent on looking the
character he meant to play, he had for the
time being abandoned the hare's foot and
rouge-pot. Although his use of those
articles had always been marked by the
most extreme discretion, his discarding of
them entirely did not add to the youthful-
ness of his appearance.

" And then you must please bear in mind
that I am afflicted with deafness," added
Byrne, with a smile, when Gerald had
drawn a chair up to the fire. "It is not a
very extreme form of deafness, but still it
is necessary that I should be spoken to in
a louder voice than ordinary ; and it is
sufficiently bad," he added, with a chuckle,
*' to prevent me, as I sit in my easy-chair



MIRIAM BYRNE. 7

by the fire, from overhearing any little private
conversation that you and another person —
my daughter, for instance — might choose to
hold together as you sit by the sofa there,
only a few yards away."

"I certainly can't understand," said
Gerald to himself, " how all this scheming,
and all these diso-uises, can in anv wav
further the object which Ambrose Murray
has so profoundly at heart."

Gerald felt mystified, and he probably
looked it. As if in response to his un-
spoken thought, Byrne presently said :
" All these things seem very strange to
you, T do not doubt, Mr. Warburton ; but
you will believe me when I assure you that
I have not for one moment lost sight of the
particular end for which my services are
retained. As soon as I begin to see my
way a little more clearly — if I ever do — my
plans and purposes shall all be told to you
and Mr. Murray. I have built up a certain
theory in my mind, and there seems only
one way of ascertaining whether that theory
has anv foundation in fact. If it have, it



8 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

may possibly lead us on to the clue we are
in search of. If it have not — but I will
not anticipate failure, however probable it
may be. If I still possess the confidence
of Mr. Murray and yourself, if you are still
willing to let me have my own way in this
thing for a little while longer, then I am
perfectly satisfied."

" We have every confidence in you, Mr.
Eyrne," said Gerald, earnestly, '' and we
are both satisfied that the case could not
have been entrusted into more capable
hands than yours."

While Gerald was speaking, a door that
led to an inner room was opened, and
Miriam Byrne came in.

Byrne rose, laid one hand on the region
of his heart, and waved the other grace-
fully.

" My daughter, Mr. Warburton — my only
child," he said.

" I am glad that you have called to see
us, Mr. Warburton," said Miriam, frankly,
in her rich, full voice. *' Mv father has
talked so much about you that my curiosity



MIRIA M B YRNE. 9

was quite piqued to see for myself what
liis rara avis was like."

" You will find that I am a bird of very-
homely plumage," replied Gerald, with a
smile. " Your father has been drawiuor on
a too lively imagination. I am afraid that
his rara avis will prove to be nothing more
wonderful than our familiar friend — the
^oose."

" What a superb creature !" was Gerald's
thought, as he sat down opposite Miriam ;
and that was the right phrase to apply to
her.

Miss Byrne was at this time close upon
her twenty-second birthday. Her beauty
was of an altogether eastern type. Hardly
anyone who met Miriam in the street took
her to be an English girl ; while to those
who knew both her and her father, it was
a constant source of wonder how " old
Peter " could come to have for his daughter
a girl so totally unlike him in every possible
way. But Byrne's wife, who died when her
daughter was quite an infant, had been a
beautiful woman, and Miriam more than



TO A SECRET OF THE SEA,

inherited her mother's good looks. People
knowing the family averred that she was
an exact counterpart of her grandmother ;
a lovely Roumanian Jewess, who had been
brought over to England in the train of an
Austrian lady of rank, and having found a
husband here, had never gone back.

Eyes and hair of the blackset had Miriam
Byrne. Large, liquid eyes, shaded with
long, black lashes, and arched with deli-
cate, well-defined brows ; hair that fell in
a thick, heavy mass to her very waist.
Tints of the damask, rose glowed through
the dusky clearness of her cheeks. Her
forehead was low and broad as that of some
antique Yenus. Her mouth was ripe and
full, and might have looked somewhat
coarse, had it not been relieved by her
finely-cut nose with its delicate nostrils.
She had on, this evening, a long, trailing
dress of violet velvet, which harmonized
admirably with her dusky loveliness — a
rich, heavy-looking dress by gaslight, but
one which daylight would have shown to
be faded and frayed in many places. It



MIRIAM BYRNE. ii

had, in fact, at one time been a stage-dress,
and as such, had been worn by Miss Kes-
teven of the Koyal Westminster Theatre,
when playing the heroine of one of Sardou's
clever dramas.

The necklace of pearls, with ear-rings to
match, which Miriam wore this evening,
were also of stage parentage, but they
looked so much like the real thino- that
no one, save an expert, could have told
without handling them that they were no-
thing better than clever shams. The one
ring, too, which she wore — a hoop of dia-
monds — on her somewhat large, but well-
shaped hand, was not more genuine than
her pearl necklace. It had been bought for
a few shillings in the Burlington Arcade ;
but it flashed famously in the gaslight ;
and as one cannot well take off a lady's
ring in order to examine it, answered its
purpose just as well as if it had cost a
hundred guineas.

But we must not be too hard on Miriam.
No doubt she was as fond of a little finery
as most of her sisters are at two-and-twenty.



12 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

but, in the present case, all these sham
trinkets had been assumed by her at her
lather s wish, and " for a certain purpose,''
as the old man said. At the same time one
need not imagine that the wearing of them,
-although they were counterfeit, was in
any way distasteful to Miriam. As she
herself would have been one of the first to
say, Bo long as other people accepted her
jewellery as real, the end for which it was
worn was thoroughly gained.

^' And how do you like your new home,
Miss Byrne ?" asked Gerald.

" I w^ould much rather it had been at
the West End than in the City," answered
Miriam. " The rooms I like very much.
They are large and old-fashioned, and have
seen better days. To live in such rooms
makes one feel as if one were somebody of
importance — as if one had money in the
Bank of England. But the look-out is
dreadful. At the back, into that horrid
churchyard ; while in the front, there is
nothing to be seen but a high, blank wall.



MIRIAM BYRNE. r^.

I am always glad when it is time to draw
the curtains and light the gas."

" You must get out for a little change
and amusement now and then/' said Gerald.
*^ It will never do for you to get moped
and melancholy through shutting yourself
up in this gloomy old house. A visit once
a week to a theatre, for instance, or "

" Don't speak of it/' interrupted Miriam.
** I hope I shall not see the inside of a
theatre for a couple of years, at the very
least."

" Perhaps the opera would suit you bet-
ter," suggested Gerald, altogether at a loss
to know why the theatre should be so em-
phatically tabooed. "If you are fond of the
opera, I think I can manage to get a couple-
of tickets for you now and then."

" Oh, that will be delightful !" exclaimed
Miriam, clasping her hands with Oriental
fervour. '' I have never been to the opera
but twice in my life, and I should dearly
love to go again/'

" Then you are fond of music T asked
Gerald.



14 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

" Passionately. I love it anywhere and
everywhere ; but I love it best on the stage.
That is the glorification of music. It is to
honour music as it ought to be honoured.
When I listen to an opera, I seem to be
lifted quite out of my ordinary self I feel
as if I were so much better and cleverer than
I really am. And then I always have a
longing to rush on to the stage and join in
the choruses, and make one more figure in
the splendid processions."

" I will send you tickets for Friday, if
you will honour me by accepting them,"
said Gerald.

"You are very kind, Mr. Warburton ;
and to such an ofter I cannot find in my
heart to say No," answered Miriam, with a
smile. '' Oh, how I wish I were clever !"
she cried next moment ; " clever enough to
be a great singer on the stage, or to paint
a great picture, or to write a book that
everybody talked about. Don't you think,
Mr. Warburton, that it must be a glorious
thing to be clever ?"

" Not being clever myself, I am hardly



MIRIAM BYRXE. 15

in a position to judge/' answered Gerald,
a,mused at the girl's earnestness. " But if
we comrQon-place people only knew it, I
have no doubt that cleverness has its dis-
advantages, like every other exceptional
quality. Besides, it w^ould not do for us
all to be clever ; in that case, the world
would soon become intolerable. I think a
moderate quantity of brains, and a large
amount of contentment, are the best stock-
in-trade to get through life with."

'• Hear, hear !" cried Byrne, from his
•easy-chair. " My sentiments exactly."

Miriam pouted a little.

''Now you are making fun of me," she said.

''No, indeed," returned Gerald, earnestly.

" T don't know why the girl should always
be ravino' about wantino- to be clever," said
Byrne, addressing himself to Gerald. "She
has plenty of good looks, and ought to be
content. Five women out of six have
neither brains nor good looks — though they
will never believe that they haven't got
the latter," added the old cynic, under his
breath.



i'6 A SECRET OE THE SEA.

"Oh, yes, I know that I'm good-looking,""
said Miriam, naively, but not without a
touch of bitterness. " People have told me
that ever since I can remember anything.
Besides, I can see it for myself in the glass,"
with an involuntary glance at the Venetian
mirror hanging opposite.

" Then why are you always dissatisfied
— always flying in the face of Providence?"
growled Byrne. " What are your good
looks given you for, but that some man
with plenty of money may fall in love with
you, and make you his wife ?"

" Why not send me to the slave- market
at Constantinople V said Miriam, bitterly.
" I dare say that I should fetch a tolerable
price there."

Gerald thought it time to change the
conversation.

** Do you come in contact at all with
Yan Duren ?" he said to Byrne.

" We have seen more of him to-day than
we saw yesterday, and more of him yester-
day than previously. He is gradually
learning to overcome the native bashfulness



MIRIAM BYRNE. 17

of his disposition," added Byrne, with a
sneer.

" Then he has not shrouded himself al-
together from view ?" said Gerald.

" Not a bit of it. What he would have
done had I been living here with a wife
instead of a daughter, I can't say. But
the fact is, he seems inclined to admire
Miriam."

The old man sat staring at Gerald with
a twinkle in his eye, as he finished speaking.

Gerald was at a loss to know in what
way it was expected that he should greet
such an item of news. So he merely fell
back on a safe, though unmeaning, " Oh,
indeed!"

Miriam, gazing into the fire, either had
not heard, or did not heed, her father's
words.

" For the sort of ursa major that he is,"
resumed Byrne, " he doesn't conduct him
self so much amiss. Has not been much
used to ladies' society, I should say. Does
not talk much, but likes to look and
listen."

VOL. II. 2



i8 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

*' Then you have had him in here 1" said
Gerald, with surprise.

''Yes, twice. There's the magnet" —
pointing to Miriam. '' It isn't me, bless
you, not me," added the old man, with a
chuckle, as he proceeded to poke the fire
vigorously.

To say that Gerald was mystified is to
say no more than the truth. But it was
evident that whatever Byrne might have
to tell him with regard to his plans
and purposes, he w^as not inclined to
tell yet, and Gerald would not question
him.

'^ Does Mr. Van Duren keep up a large
establishment ?" he said.

" No : a small one. Everything on a
miserly scale. Every item of expenditure
cut down to the lowest possible point."

" Perhaps he is poor."

" Poor ! my dear sir. Tcha ! When
did you ever know a money-lender to be
poor {

'' But I did not know that Van Duren
was a money-lender."



MIRIAM BYRNE. 19

*' That's what he is : neither more nor
less."

" Then, in that case, he must be a man
of capital T

*' Certainly, to some extent. But you
never know how the webs of such spiders
as he interlace and cross each other. Per-
haps he is only used as a decoy to catch
foolish flies for bigger and older spiders
than himself But, in any case, you may
be sure that he comes in for a good share
of the plunder."

*' From what you have said, 1 presume
that he is unmarried ?"

" There are no signs of a wife under this
roof," said Byrne. " Besides himself, there
is, in the office, first, his clerk, Pringle — a
drunken, disreputable old vagabond enough,
from what I have seen of him ; and secondly,
a youth of fifteen, to copy letters and run
errands, and so on. Then, downstairs, in
a dungeon below the level of the street, we
have Bakewell and his wife, as custodians-
of the premises and personal attendants ork
Van Duren — a harmless, ignorant couple

2—2



20 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

enough. These, with Miriam and myself,
make up the sum total of the establish-
ment. Pringle and the boy, I may add,
do not sleep on the premises."

*' Are you acquainted with Mr. Yan
Duren ?" asked Miriam, suddenly lifting
her eyes from the fire.

" I have not that honour," said Gerald,
drily.

*' There is a great deal of power about
him," said Miriam, "and I like power
in a man. He seems to me to be a man
who would stand at nothing in working
out his own ends either for good or evil.
Por women — weak women — such cha-
racters generally have a peculiar fascina-
tion."

" That's because you never have a will of
your own for an hour together," said Byrne.
*' Women always admire what they possess
least of themselves."

" Papa always runs the ladies down,"
said Miriam, smilingly, to Gerald. "But
if only one-half that I have heard whispered
be true, no one could be fonder of their



MIRIAM B YRNE. 21

society tlian he was, so long as he was
young and good-looking."

"And now that he is neither T

said Byrne.

" No one delio'hts to run them down more

o

than he. The old story, Mr. AYarburton.
Olives have no longer any flavour for him,
therefore only fools eat olives."

Genald rose and made his adieux. It
was arrano-ed that he should call a^ain on
the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

" You won t forget the tickets for the
opera, will you, Mr. Warburton ?" were
Miriam's whispered words as they stood for
a moment at the street door, she having
gone down stairs to let him out.

" Well, kitten, and what do you think
of your new-found brother ?" asked Byrne,
as soon as Miriam got back into the room.

" I like him. It would be impossible to
help liking him," said Miriam.

"Your reasons — if you have any?"

" Ladies are not supposed to give reasons.
I like him because I like him. For one
thing, he is not commonplace. There is



22 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

an air of cleverness about him. You would
not feel a bit surprised if at any moment
lie were to tell you that he was the author
of the last celebrated poem, or the painter
of the last great picture, or that he had
been down the crater of Vesuvius, or had
invented a new balloon that would take you
half-way to the moon. By the time you
have been in Mr. Warburton's society ten
minutes, you say to yourself: * Here's a
man who has brains.' "

*' Eather different from James Baron,
Esq., eh r

'' Now, papa !" said Miriam, in a hurt
tone. Then she turned from him and went
to the window, and drew aside the curtain,
and peered out into the darkness. "I
thought it was understood between us that
on this point there was no longer to be any
contention. I thought you thoroughly un-
derstood, papa, that nothing could alter
my determination."

" Oh, you have made me understand all
that, plainly enough," said Byrne. '' But
when I think how mad and foolish you



MIRIAM BYRNE, 23

are — how determined you are to throw
away your one great chance in life, I can't
help— '^

" Pray spare me, papa ! Why cover
ground that you and I have trodden so
often already ?"

"To think," said Byrne, indignantly,
"of my daughter demeaning herself to
marry a common, underpaid clerk !"

" Yes, a clerk whose father is a dean ; and
who was educated at college, and "

" And who was expelled from college
for "

"Papa, for shame ! Is his one fault to
stick to him through life V

" Even his own people discard him."

" Let them do so. He will make his
way in spite of them. He is a gentleman
bred and born."'

" A gentleman, forsooth !"

" Yes — a gentleman who has bound him-
self to marry a ballet girl — for that's what
I am. Neither more nor less than a ballet
girl!"



24 A SECRET OF THE SEA.

" Had it not been for my misfor-
tunes "

" We need not speak of them, papa.
But was it a wise thing on your part to
expose me to all the temptations of a
theatre V

'' I had every confidence in the strength
of your principles."

'' Had you kno^Yn one tithe of the
temptations to which I was exposed, you
might well have trembled for me. Why^
the very last night I was at the Eoyal
Westminster there w^as a note left for me
at the stage door and a splendid bouquet,
and inside the bouquet was this."

As Miriam spoke, she extracted from
her watch-pocket a ring set wdth five or six
costly brilliants, and handed it to her
father.

" You are not going to wear this !" he
said, looking up at her with sudden sus-
picion.

" You ought to know me better, papa,
than to ask such a question."

" Do you know from whom it came ?"



MIRIAM B YRNE. 25.

" It would not be difficult to find out, I
dare say."

" Then why have you not sent the ring
back ?"

"Because I mean the sender of it to
pay for his folly. You remember my tell-
ing you how little Rose Montgomery broke
her leg at the theatre the other week,
through falling down a trap. She is little
more than a child, and has not another
friend than myself in all London. I am
going to ask James to sell the ring for me.
I shall give Rose the money. It will keep
her when she comes out of the hospital till
she is strong enough to begin dancing
again."

" James ! James I How I hate to hear
the name !" said Byrne, as he got up and
left the room.

" It is the name of the man I love — of
the man whose wife I am going to be," re-


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