|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Hjster jof the Eed House
ATT AMERICAN STORY OF THEIL LING INTEEEST.
By Mart E. Bryan.
CHAPTEE I.— Continued.
A hot nush rose into her olive cheek ; her eyes faltered in their steady eaze into Carleon's ; then the long lashes swept up again, and the eyes flashed as she went on : ' After all I should blame you for my rained life. I£ I had not gone with yon all would have been different, for Montealm came as you know ; he found me gone ; he
denounced me and took my child ; I have never seen either of them since. The ?wrong that crippled my life came from the man you urge me to see Why should I eeo him Y What good will it do ? I -want money, but not from him. It seems to me that money would burn my 'fingers if it came from him. There was a time when I longed to be revenged upon him, but hate, like ]ove, has burned out in me. There is nothing in my heart now but ashes ; all I hope or ask i;or now is excitement — some- thing to warm these ashes. The Bta°;e will give me this, if I can get there. That is my last hope, and for its sake I have come to you ; acd you — you discourage me. You think 1 would not succeed ' ' I do not doubt your success on the stage if you coald once get a place upon it, But it is the difficulty, the almost impossibility of this, which leads me to discourage your idea of becoming an actress. It is too late for you to begin at the bottom of the ladder Besides, you must live ; iind you require certain luxuries, indulgences, you tell me, which have become as necessary to you as food and air. How are yon to obtain them ? I tell you, your best way is to fasten your self en Montealm. Montealm owes you reparation for what he ha^s done He will go to Eome length, 1 imagine, rather than you should expose him just now. He is ambitious, aspires to political honors, through his brother's (the ceneral's) in fluence. He is -at the head of the military organization here, ar.d prides himself on his honorable name It would mortify him and injure him as well to have the story of his early indiscretion — ' . . ' I have told you I v.ould not make that story publi-* — for my own sake. Thanks to you, my part in it would not he blameless I do not wish to have my past life dissected in the newspapers. I have, you tell me, no legal claims upon Captain Mcntcalm, and I have no claim upon his heart ' 'You might rekindle his love. Montealm does not look like a person oi: seniiment, but his brother, the general (who is my tood friend), assures me he is a man of verjr deep feeling and wonderful constancy, and that an early love affair and disappointment in Mexico was the cause of his present reserved and stern demeanor. I believe he has never forgotten you, that he still remembers with fondness the child-wife of his youth. There iB another tie — the child.' ' It is doubtless dead.'' ' I have a very strong idea that it is alive somewhere. A desire to know what has become of it is a good and suificient excuse for your seeking Montealm and eitablishing a claim upon him You can persuade him that you were never untrue to him (with those eyes and that voice you can make a man believe anything), that you have sought for him everywhere, broken-hearted but still faithful. You are still a magnetic — a beantiful woman ' She frowned, but in spite of herself the color in her cheek grew warmer ' So is his wife,' she said presently. * His wife is a blonde. Itfo tawny Saxon like Montealm ever loved a blonde. He married her chiefly out of sympathy, partly, perhaps, for her money. Have you not heard the story ? The girl was an orphan with only an adopted brother for a guardian. When, she quitted the sehool-room she went with an aunt to Europe on a short excursion trip. In ^Florence they met Montcahtn, who had been abroad for years in some official capacity. The raw schoolgirl fell madly in love with the mature, polished man of the world. He knew how to deal with such fancies, and it would probably have come to nothing, only the girl's aunt died suddenly of apoplexy, leaving her alone in a strange city. She clung to Montealm for sympathy and pro tection. They were mnch thrown together, and the result was that he married her and came back with her to America. But they are uncongenial. She does not. interest him. She is romantic and worships him, but at is an ideal. She glories in his stern rectitude and calls him her Roman, But she is fast becoming disenchanted, and when she knows your Btoryj her idol will tumble from its pedestal.' ' She will not know it.' * She will hear it this evening — in ' (look ing at hiB watch) ' less than an hour from now She will be near your rendezvous with Captain Montealm — near enough to see and hear all she can , She has read your note to her husband — or rather a copy of it — asking him to meet you in the old cemetery. I caused afac-simile of that note to be put into her hands by her maid, with the story that it. was picked up in Captain Montcalm'B dressing-room.' * You did this ?' Zulimee cried, her Spanish ey3s ablaze ; 'and what was your motive ? A personal, a selfish one, I know. ; I do not believe in your disinterestedness. I refuse to be your blind tool. Tell me at once what is your interest in the matter, or—' 1 *. Quietly, inajbelle. Xou shall know my motive. J don't mind being open with you. Indeed, your penetration would not permit me to be anything else. In the first place, then, I hate this Montealm. He has pre sumed to sit ;ih 'judgment on my conduct; he gives himself haughty, superior airs ; he has crossed my path more than, once. He has been put at the head of a military organisation here, -when I had every right to expect the honor. He is, running for, and will probably be electsd to, an important city office, when I had a man. of my own picked out to fill it. He has forbidden his wife to hold any intercourse with a set here — u little lively, may 'be, but' as respectable as any in the city— -a set that Includes nearly alT my friends . -For these and other reasons, I owe a bitter grudge to the man. I would be glad of aaythng that would mortify or injure him. A separation from his - wife, would do bbtfi..'. Se does not care for her, and she is beginning to resent his indifier enee. Already they are partially estranged. The knowledge of your claims npon him — the story of hie relations; with and deser tion of yon, Tvrll'compleiJDtihc estrangement.' '?';? jThat jdpesjnpt ;rne£e/ftarily follow- . Tb-is relation existed long before he Wet her^
She Iove3 him, she will forgive him and keep his secret for the sake both of her love and her pnde. I feel sure there will be no inter view between him and me this evening . She had gone to him with reproaches ; alarmed and humbled, he has explained, protested, promised, and in the end there has been a reconciliation.' ' Is that all you know of your sex ? Then I understand their nature better than you do, as the sequel will show. She will he on hand in the old cemetery before you are — concealed somewhere among the tombs or the shrubbery. She will see your meeting with Montcalm — pray manage that it shall seem kind if not passionate ; she will* over hear something of what is said ; take care that she hears what will assure her of your claim upon him, of your wro-igs, the child, etc. There will be no opportunity after wards for reproaches on her part, or explana tion on his, for he will go straight from the cemetery to the railway depot. He is pledged to deliver an address at a public ffatherirg in Smithville to-morrow at ten. He would not disappoint the crowd for any thing, and his train leaves at half-past seven this evening. He will just have time to catch it after his interview with you. To morrow I have a little lawn party at my island villa. Montcalm has told his wife if she goes she shall not retnrn to his house. He does not imagine she would disobey him, nor did she dream of doing so yesterday or this morning. But to-night, when she re turns from the cemetery, she will be reckless enough for anything She will be ready for any vent for wounded pride and outraged love She will be of the island party, and Montcalm, who is sternly determined and has a terrible temper, will keep his word. She will be in the mood to defeat him, and a separation will follow, probably a divorce. Then comes the opportunity for the first wife — the woman he has always loved — to
reinstate herself in his affections, in his home and his wealth — she, and probably her child * ' And you, my lord ?' she asked with a mocking, but still a beaming smile. ' Oh, my share of the proiit comes in just here. Montcalm will be too much occupied with his tangled affairs to pursue politics or couri popularity.' They did not hear the knock that tell upon the door, but the parrot did. He had been hoprcing restlessly on his perch and making croaking noises all the while the two conversed ; now he shrieked out, 'Entrey.' The door opened and a roly-poly, frousv headed woman entered with a tray, on which were a tiny Bmoking coffee-pot and a cup and saucer. ' I have brought your coffee hot and strong, at five as you told me,' she said to Zulimee. ' You were going out, you said.' ' Thanks, Madame Brazael. Yes ; I am going directly,' the Spanish woman answered, and looked at Carleon. ' So you will go to the appointment,' he said low, replying to the look. ' That is right ; and now forgive one friendly sug gestion. You know your weak point — your quick, passionate temper ; pray be watchful of it in the coming; interview. Be calm and far-seeing. The next hour or two may be laden with, fate for you. I trust it will bring only good fortune. Adiea ' With another touch of his moustached lips to her hand he was gone. Madame Brazael had also left the room. Zulimee stood a second in thought. ' Can it be there is any good luck waiting for me ?' she muttered. ' 1 cannot feel it so. I am etrangelj depressed. I shrink from this meeting. Oh, how it will bring bring back the old innocent, loving days 1 Ah, well, perhaps the coffee will help me.* She took up the little metal pot and poured a part of its steaming contents into the cup. ' It looks strong,' she said, eyeing the clear brown color of the liquid, ' bat I will add to its strength.' She opened a drawer and took out a small crystal and gilt flask half filled with brandy. She poured a few spoonsful of the liquor iato the coffee and drank it Then she threw a black lace mantilla over her head, and glanced at her watch ; then paced the floor restlessly, holding her hand over her heart. 1 It will not do. I trust have morphine after all,' she said aloud. * Nothing else can wind me up. I seem all run down ' Carleon rode briskly to the quarter of the town, where Captain Montcalm lived. Dis mounting before a public building, he made his way to an upper story, stationed himself at a window commanding a view of Mont calm's house, and brought his opera glass to bear apon its front door. Five minutes passed, then a female fisrure. muffled in a
grey cloak and veil, came out and passed into the street. Carleon smiled, well pleased. In spite of the unusual dress, be knew Laura Montcalm's gliding yet proad walk. It was she, and she was going to the cemetery, else she would not have dressed that way, and would not have gone on foot, when she had a pretty pony phaeton. He watched her enter a street car that would take her near the old river-side cemetery, unused for many years, neglected and overgrown. Then he came down, remounted Mabmoud and. was cantering leisurely up the street- when Mrs. La line's carriage turned a corner. She signalled to the driver to stop and beckoned to Carleon. He rode up beside the carriage and returned her gay familiar greeting. (to be continued.)