|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the Red House
AN AMERICAN STORY OF THEIL LIJSTG INTEREST.
By Mary E.'Bbyan.
? (Commenced in the Evening News of Sep I Umber 20.) I CHAPTER VIL— Oontinued.
? — . ? ? The last paper had undergone this rapid. I examination, and Hazard had dashed off a I page or two of those short, pungent satirical ? paragraphs in the writing of which he ex I celled, when en- putting his hand into his I pocket to get a fresh pencil, he felt and drew ? out a note which General Montcalm had I given him. with the remark that the informa ? tion it- contained abont a city matter would I make a «ood item. The 'note was from I Mayor Heathcliff — the late Democratic
^H UUU1LUCC 1U1 \*UWLU\Ji:^—±JL\)U\JL .lU.U.Ut/wiai.111 O H suitor Hazard read it and sat musing: half H absently. Suddenly he scrutinised the H writing more closely. Something in the H turn of a capita! letter had struck him with H the idea that there was a resemblance be H tween this writing and that of his unknown H patron He. caught up the envelope that H had contained the money and put it beside H HeathcliS's note. Was it only his fancy, H or was there a resemblance in the shape of H certain letters ? He at once remembered H that a noted expert was then in the city on H a business mission; he would take the enve H lope and note to him, together with a number ? of sp ''ciniens of other handwritings, and see H what he could make out of it. tie put the H two pieces of paper in hia pocket, and going H into the room of the business manager, asked H for and obtained a goodly number of letters H that had been ' worked over ' and thrown H into the wastsbasket. A few minutos later, H he was ushered into the room of the expert, H a taciturn man with a face like a tombstone H Hazard put the pile of letters on the table H before him, among them the note from H Mayor Heathcliff and giving him the en ve- H lope that had contained the money, said ? H ' * Can yon tell me if any of these letters H were written by the same hand that wrote H this address ?' H ' In half an hour I can tell you,' replied H the solemn-looking man. - H * Very well, I will wait.' H To economise time Hazard took out his H note-book and began to write, while the H esjjerfc examined the letters, bringing each H one within a few inches of his nose, and H peeping at it intently through his short H Eighted gl.isses. H Before that halt-hour was quite out, the H oraclt had s oken. H * The handwriting o€ this letter and that H upon the euvelope is the same The latter H is disguised, but it was written by the same H hand as the other ' H Hazard started up and went to the table. H The letter the expert haJ indicated was the H no e to General Montcalm, bearing Ira ^B Heafchr.lifFs firm Rio-nnt-./irA
? , CHAPTER VIII H 'Mayor Heathcliff sits in his study — a H pleasant room in his eleanl home on Ever H green-3treet. A striking presence is that of H Ira HeatbcHff, ...ay or of Wallport. Tall, ^M massively built, wish a firmly poised head, H a resolute mouth and steadfast j^rey eyes — H such a face as might 'well belong to a man H who had worked his way up to fortune and j H position. The lines on his brow show that ^M this rise has n^t been achieved without a | H battle; a id a peculiar expression in his grey H eye— :a large thougbtfuiness, shading iiito H melancholy — seems to hint that he has also H had to do bat'. Je against himself H But it is hard to read eyes so full of deep H meaning as Ira Keathcliff's. Just now they H are crossed by changing lights. He is open H ing and ..lancing over she papers and letters H the mail-carrier has depjsited on his table. H As he reads the various comments — caustic H or congratulatory — upon his prospects of H political eievaiion, his j'ace changes With H all his stern strength of nature, he is not H proof against a thrill of pride as he reads H tbe praises of his integrity and fitness for H an onije of trast Bat the bitter flings of H his enemies kindle in him only amusement H or mild scorn. He has learned to expect H 'rebuffs and to disregard them Only one H of the newspaper thrasis really wounds him H — a few paragraphs or keen, biting satire in H the tjoluinns of tbe Rattler, the new daily, H which has a rattlesnake as its figurehead. H ?with the motto, ' Nemo me immune hicesBit ' H The thrust in the French style, delicate and H deadly H He recognises the hand that dealt it H ' Et tu, Brale?' he says, with a smile half H sad, half cynical. H The nest instant he forgets all about the H Rattles, for his eye has lighted upon the ? superscription of a letter which changes the H current of hi ^ thoughts. He breaks the seal H and reads with a frown tbe few lines, in a B lady s hand, written upon the square white H card which falls from the envelope He H tosses the card upon the table, exclaiming : H ' It is impossible for a woman to be reason H able. How can I humor her when — ' H A. knock at the do jt interrupts him. A H visitor is announced. He bites his lip when H the name is j-iveh, but finally says, ' Show H him in/ and I iazard Hall walks in. The H mayor does not seem to notice his haughty H nod, but cordially invites him to be sea ed H But the young man walks straight to the H table and tbrowe an envelope down before ? tra Heathcliff . I * My bnsiness with you is brief,' he says. H * I v ant first to ask, did yon write the ad H dress upon that envelope ?' H The abrupt question, the keen, sudden H look threw Heathcliff off his guard His ? face flushed : he half-stammered : . H ?Why did you ask me this ?' H * I see you did write it,' Hazard returned. B f Zou sent the money that is enclosed in it j B you eent a similar sum twice before in the B same way Now, tell me what is the mean B ing of these anonymous gifta? Whatbnsi, B ness' have yon 'to' send me money? Wliat B right have I to it j' B ^Heathcliff did not speak for an inetant, B then lie said: B ' Regard it as a -mere friendly present, B Bent through me by one who takes an in B teresi in your Tvelfarg.' B 'Who ib this person, and why does he B take a 1 interest in me ?' B .-v--:a1iat.I'i»tti6t.teil you.''- ?'??'?? B '^fou will not teil me, you mean !' the B young man cried, ^ngrtiy B 'V:Have:itS'o thiBh.; 1 will nofctell^ou.' B -; .^or will vjyeu; 4eil me who my parent? B are, though you know. . J)p yon not know ? B Stay : do not ffttak jet. I 'sviU'cntreat B you to tell me wiio^^WBy: aa&—zrUl von do
Oaee more Heathcliff hesitated, looking even kindly into the. young face before him, where anxiety had softened the expression of haughty distrust with which Hazard had regarded the mayor. ' No, I cannot tell you. Why should you imagine that I know ?' he said, at last. ' Too shall tell it I will force you to,' Hazard burst forth, thrusting his clenched hand almost in, Heathclifl's face. : The mayor's cool, coatemptnous eye brought back the boy's self-controL * The money you last sent is there,' Hazard said more calmly, pointing to the envelope. ' The other sum I will return to yoa as soon as I can. I will not accept the money unless I can know what right I have to it. Doubtless you have most honorable motives for keeping this from me.' ' What dishonorable motive- could I have ?' ' Such as this : I am perhaps heir to a large amount of money, which has been confided to your charge You have used it to enrich jeourself . As a slave to your con science, you send me a beggarly stipend in this underhand way.' Anger lightened from Heathcliff's eyeB He rose from his seat and confronted the young; man * Yes, I dare say such things to a man. who withholds from me what I have a right to know, even if that man be so great a per sonage as the owner of Heathcliff Mills, Mayor of Wallport, and prospective governor of the state But the last title remains to be won ; and you will not win it without a fight, with all your money Money can't muzzle the press, though it may put its chain isnd collar on a few cravens of the pack. We will scent out the secret flaws in that moral record you count so largely upon We will lay bare your motives and schemes. Benefit by the warning if ycu can. Adieu, Mayor Heathcliffe. If not' before, we shall meet at your Phillipi — the polls ' Heathcliff sat motionless for a minute after his impetuous visitor had vanished through the doorway. His anger was gone ; his face wore a look of grave perplexity ' What can be the eecret of that bov's rancour against me?' he mused 'It cannot be solely because I have withheld from him the source of a benefaction. There must be some other reason ' Not once did it enter his mind that this fiery young stripling was a lover of Honor Montcalm, and that jealousy was the secret of his bitter animosity to Miss Montcalm's favored suitor. CHAPTER IX Hazard quitted Heathcliff's Bouse in a state of high excitement. That this man knew the secret of his parentage, he fully believed ; that his parents had left him money, of which Heathcliff had defrauded him, he began to suspect ; but he had no pro -f ; he had no way of forcing the mayor's acknowledgement. His fancy im peiuositv would, have no . eSect upon the other's iron firmness And how contemptu ously the massive form of the mill owner had lowered above him ! how scathingly his grey eye had run over the 3lender figure ! The boy chafed under the recollection. ' And he is Honor Montcaim's favored suitor,' was the thought that gaye addei bitterness to his mood. ±Jut he had no time to engage in specula tion, or to form visionary plans, lie must work ; this was a present necessary. As be turned to enter* the office of the Rattlee, he could see in ;he distance the volumes of black smoke pouring out of the tall chimney's of Meathcliif's factory and staining the bine sky * Curse him F he thought. ' He has no need to work. He will order his phaet m and take his lady-love io drive this bright afternoon Dyke, the leading editor, looked up from his desk as Hazard was passing on * It seems to me yon are not attending to your business to-day,' he said. '%I s,ent you the old files of the Republic that you might hunt up that report of Heat1' cliff's speech when he ran for Congress five years a. o, and pick out the damaging paragraphs to com ment on and show up in a strong light ; and here you are out of your place — rnnning around.* Hazard vouchsafed no reply, but ran up stairs to bis den, where he threw himself in a, seat before his desk. He pulled to him the file of yellow newspapers, biit before be began to examine them his eye fell upon the roll of legal cap over which he had been boring the night before They were papers relating to the inquest held over the body of Captain Montcalm — the statement of the surgeon who examined the bod 7, and the evidence of the two servants who discovered ' it and of the persons who lived nearest the house, in which-the murder was committed ; also the testimony of other persons who had intimated a knowledge of some circumstances that might throw li^hfe upon the crime. The evidence had seemed of little value to Hazard when he looked it over last ni^ht ; n -w, as he drew the papers to him, half mechanically, a flush mounted to his brow. The name of Ira Heathciiff had caught his eye He read with new interest the state ment of one John Bowen, a carpenter, who attes.ed that, wlrle passing Heathcliff's bouse, between nine and ten o'clock on the night of the murder, he had seen Laura Montcalm go into the mayor's house by a side gate and encer the house. He seemed to have been positive of this at first, but on being further questioned, to have admitted the possibility of having been mistaken. He had caught only a glimpse, he said, of the woman, and he barely knew Mrs Mont calm by sight. On its being shown that Mr Heathcliff's- housekeeper- — wearing a dark- dreraj such. -as Mrs Montcalm wore that night, according to the maid's testimony — had returned from a weddins party (the same which Fanny' attended) at half-past ten, it was decided that this was the' woman, in. black whom John Bowen had seen enter, ing HeatncUfTs premises True, the car penter had at first' affirmed it was hut. half past nine when he eaw the supposed Mrs. Monicalm, bnt afterward he declared that ho wouldn't give a guess at the time It might have been earlier tban ten or it might have been later He * wasn't payn' no at tention to thetriflm' circuinstanee, aayhow..' Bowen had been dismissed and bis testi mony set aside as worthless Nevertheless* Hazard referred to it. .with^la ';Sntejrest thai deepened into eagerness as Jh1s Buddenly con nected it with something kieiid i*ad while he : was . in ' .the major's room.- :f This waft nothing less than the note written on the enveloped card which had seemed t^ annoy; HeathclilE Ibo ?i£fceat!y- -He. had : t^sjaed: ^, table. Dttrins the half minute when Jie
waited in suspense for the mayor to answer his question about his parents, Hazard's glance had casually dropped upon the card lying just beneath his eye. Involuntarily, without being conscious at first of what he was doing, he read t*»e three or four lines written on the dainty, silver-edged square of pasteboard. Even in thafc anxious moment, they struck him as being very strange, particularly as written to the grave and stately mayor, who had never been known to pay attention to any woman but Honor Montcalm, There was no address, no signature, only these lines : ' I find I cannot pive up that imprudent wiira, as yoa call it. I have 8et my htairt upon it ; bo humour me this once, my beat and deaxest, and oome for me' to-night. Eamember how lpag I have been starved for music* * Who had written these words of familiar endearment to Ira Heathcliff — ' the model of propriety ' ? Hazard said bitterly — who had never been known to be mora than courteous to an/ woman, until he bowed at the shrine of General Montcalm's daughter. (TO BE- CONTINUED.)