|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the B,ed House
AN AMERICAN STORY OF THEIL LING lKTEBEST.
By Mary E. Betas.
(Commenced in tlis Evening News of Sep ... tember 20J CHAPTER I/. (Continued.) ?
The case was not ' nol pros'd-' The prisoner was dismissed, freed from any shadow of guilt ; tlio court adjourned Ko action was taken against Mrs. G-onzalis- It was so plain that her life was near its close, and after all her deed had teen homicide,
not murder. The crowd poured from the doors. In the court-yard outside were heard shouts for B^Bathcliff. Friends and strangers pressed forward to shake the hands of Heafchcliff and his sister' Some of these hands the mayor pressed warmly. They ?were the hands of friends who had stood by him in his dark hour. To the congratula tions of others, he responded courteously butcoldly. He eo.uld not bring his straight . forward nature to welcome bac.i these sunshine friends His pale face flushed a3 the two figures approached — General &Iont- ealm with his daughter upon his arm. The general held out his hand. .. * I have wronged you Heathcliff,' said the bluff old soldier. * I am sorry for it The cloud has passed ; I believe yoa to be as true a man as breathes. Mv hand upon. it.' Honor eaid nothing1, but her eyes \rere eloquent. They shone through tears, and the hand sbe pave to HeatheLiff tremble J like a white frightened dove She said to Laura iloz»tcalm : ' We were- strangera almost ; we witt be etrangers no longer. Will you not come home with us ?' Her father echoed the invitation ; but Laura thanked them and said : * I will go to my brother's. It will 'be better for us to spend the evening by our selves. ' ' Not quite by ourselves,' Heathcliff said whan the others had turned away. ' David Holt will be with us.' ' Ah, dear old David !' Bhe murmured, tears springing- to her eyes. ' He is listening to that dubious compli ment/ her brother said, smiling She looked around and s*iw Kiss standinpr near her, regarding her wistfnllv, a strange, old-youns face with a pathos and nobleness in its look that attracted in. spite of the rugged features she held oni her hands to him He trembled as he took them and held them a moment in his awkward, silent way. He longed to Dress them in his i-reat palms, but he dared not. He sLoed 'hy and speechless before the woman he had loved all his life. The siubt of her a prisoner, the thought of how Bhs had suffered, had un manned him an hour ago. There wa3 one other in the little party gathered at the mayor's house that evening. Max Bubin made the f ourta who sat at the pleasant jable, with, its wax-lights and Hewers, its fragrant coffee, its delicious oys'ers and crisp biscuits Laura had norer Been the fair-haired artist before to-dav. She remembered having heard the name from ELIldee's lips. She felt almost sure this was Max who had been the child's friend and protector She would not ass She would, not cloud the sunshine of the hour by speaking of the lost girl, whose name always brought a shadow on Heathclifl's brow She looked constantly at David. His face puzzled her ; it stirred a recollec tion of another face. Could it be ? But no ; it was absurd to fancy it Presently he caught her ? regarding him. with that puzzle i expression- Hs smiled ' SToa look at me as though you expected me to turn into somebody else,' he said. 'Do I remind ion of someone ?' u ' Xes.' she said hesitatingly ; ' but — ' ' * O£ a poor daft fiddler nicknamed. St. Peter, for instance ?' ' It is St Peter you remind me of,' she cried ; ' but surely — ' ' Surely i am he.' * How can it be ?' * I am simply shaven and storn, clothed and in my right mind,' David said ' At least partly in. my right mind. There are dreamy lapses yet sometimes. I seem drift ing back to that semi conscious state, and recall myself with an effort.' * Do you remember nothing oE what happened in'thst time ?' Heathcliff a-ssed. * I have a dim x-ecollection of some in cidents — 1 seem to have setn them aa a panorama on tbe stags when I was half asleep. I have a kind of picture of little Kildee the first time I ever saw her when she drew the street boys away from torment ing me by her dancing. I caa see her striking her tambourine and whirling about, and hear her say, ie Give my uncle his iiddle and ids pet or you shall have no more dances ' Then 1 have a more distinct recollection of the fire that awfal nuht when she was rescued from the burning house. I was miserable -thinkine ? her dead until I saw her open her eyes in the carriaee.' . Laura looked at Max. Was David still daft? * Does he not know ?' sbe asked low ' Have you not told him that Bhe — sae was not rescued ?' ' Oh!' cried Max -joyously ; ' if; is you tw o who do not -know I have reserved a piese of good news for our .dessert. Kildee is not dead. She did not perish in the burn ing tenement house. Carleon caved her. It ?was another girl — ? a poor outcast, who lost ierlife' v . ?* Kildee alive ! Kildee not burned !' cried Laura. Heathcliff did not speaK ; hie look, his white parted lips shewed his speechless emotion. * What became of her? Where did she go ?' Mrs Monitskim asked breath lessly- ' ??'.?' .'?'- _?'? ' . ' ' * She went away withS||r-wiib. Lottie and w4 We left that morning early and joined the troupe i at jbheir next stopping-place ' * it was the daipshe was io have been married,' murmured Laura, looking at Heathelig. He spoke wish an effort. *I see how it was/ he said. Tbo poor child did not wish to marry me She could ntjt 3-ring herself io say so— and— ' '^Forgive her!,' interposed. ' Max.. :?* She honored and esteemed jfpn. She was deeply sensible ot your kindness, and said it was a poor return to Vmarry you She thought 'herself no it mate for you. She feared yonr kindness-- sbe called, #it pity — had misled yon when yon. cliose her as a bride She ^always th.*i;ght : so humbly of herself, for all she has a certain proud eelf-respect/
'And she loved you ?'-. Heatchliffi said, 1 looking steadily at Max \ He colored all over his fair face. . * She was my ward — my pet,' he said. * I found her, you know, when I was a boy, and helped to raise ^er. I have lcved her always. ', ' And she has married you?' asked Laura, j * Kp no, we are not married yet. Indeed, I was afraid until quite lately that she did not love me— only as a brother. She was strangely reserved and sad after we went away from here. Always she was sweet tempered and thongntfnl of others ; that is her nature, but I missed her merry ways I fancied she had some hidden regret, perhaps, that she had gone with, us, till she ass :red me that this was not so- St Peter, I beg his pardon, David was sick, and we stopped wit5i him-^Kildee, Mrs. Duck and 1. The other members of the troupe were obliged to ? leave us ? they bad to keep their engage ments We had stopped at a little way-side town — a little, qnaict hotel, but the people were so kind-hearted. Kildee was a faith ful nurse. Sse had two patients on her handjs. Mrs. Diick was tasen. with iever. We nursed them both. Dear little girl What do you think she did in the intervals of that sick-bed oight-and-dar tendance ? Our finances were very low and she gave I«eson3 in lace-worK and embroidery to a class that some ladies had gotten np lor her. I tried co give drawing lessons, but I had only three pupils At last I got a remit tance from my aunt; in Minnesota, and ;just as things began to look bright, with both patients able to be up, our little nurse suc cumbed .to the overwork and anxiety ' 'And she is ill?' asked Heaiclifft quickly ' She has been ill — -a shori sharp, attack. Sbe is better now— nearly well Kildee is strong for all her fragile looks ; and she has a hero's resolution. She is the pluckiest litile one I know of We left her in kind hands, and vre are going back to-morrow at least, 1 am She .urged us to come as edon as David was able to travel We were snre his testimony would be euffieient, we could not guess the further good 3uek of being able to produce Mrs Goiazalis.' ' Strange,' David said to Heathcliff, c that tou Aid not think of her before a3 the doer of the deed.' * I did not think of her,' he answered. *I told my suspicion to Laura's counsel, and he brought it forward in his speech, to the jury, but we had no proof. She could not even be summoned, for I do not know where she was I had lost sight of her, until last night a woman came to me, saying Mrs. Gonzalis was ill, dyin» of consumption at her house, on the oulekirt of the town, and that she needed assistance. 1 eave the woman some money- To-day -when Collier sent for me at the hotel, and I heard yonr s ory, I immediately went to see Mrs Gonzalis and tola her we had no proof that she committed the deed another was being tried for, but that cer confession was needed to give the other a full acquittal. She con- . sented to be brought befors the courfc more readily than I hoped She knew that she bad but a litile while to live, and she was very remorseful- After all, she had only acted in eelf -defence' f He saw his sister grow pale, and hastened to dismiss a gloomy subject. ' You were telliog us of Kildee,' Heath cliff said. ' Go on Tou eould not tell us about anyone vie are more, interested in. You said you were afraid until - lately that sbe did not care for you except as a brother. 1 suppose you are now convinced.'' ' Yes,' Max, answered, blushing, and looking happy. 'It was this way — if yon will not think ma foolish to talk of senti mental matters. I had lifted her from the bed and set her in a. wide arm-chair, and knelt down to adjust her footstool properly. She laid her little hand on my head in her pretty, caressing way, and said, ' Good bov, dear Max.' ' Am I ddar to you, petite ?' I asked ; 'tell me truly.' ' Wny, of course you are, you doubting Thomas,' she answered smilin.r But 1 was intensely eerioae. I said ; ' If I am dear to you, why will you not marry me, Kildee ? I ljve you so dearly ; I have Joved you so long. Something might pars you from me again, and I should be miserable. Wilt voa hoe be my very own ?' 1. was still on my knees before her and I held her hand and loosed at her, I am afraia tears were in my eyes She eaid nothing f--r & niinute, thea she bent down and kissed me on the brow. * Yes I will marry you/ she said, ' if you wish me to so very much, dear Max.*' So that was our engagement.* Dear old Mother ! uck, as we call her, woke up from her nap in her easy-chair and gave us her blessing ' HeathcliS did not speak, nor did Laura. She looked ^rave, even sad. At length the mayor said : 1 She is a good girl, a dear girl I am sura she loves you, and will makeyou happy. Will you bring her here and let her be married at my house V* ' I will bring her here ; she must be married here, but not at your house, I think. My friends, I have another secret for you — a wonderful secret.' ' Concerning Kildee ?' * Yes — concerning Kildee — the secret of her parentage ' She will be married at her father's house, under %er rightful name-r- 1 though, that father does nGi yet know. Do you remember a paper that you affixed your name to — ?ou and Miss* Montc&hn ou the night of the fire ? It was a statement— a' confession written by a woman, Hell Barnes, who died that night. Her body was half consumed by the fire.' ' And the paper was also burned ?' 'No, it was saved Kildee thrust it in her. bosom and forgot it. Lottie found it when she undressed the, little one that night, and put it in her trunk. A few days ago she sent it to us. I have it in my pocket. You shall read it- to us.' ?We will go into the sitting-room, then. I have ordered a wood1 lire to bs kindled. It is*ra little ' chill, and the resinous pine wood will make us feel eheerfuL* . , . . . He led the way to ilie sitting-room ; and the Gthers followed, all but Laura /When his guests were seated by the rnddy fire, he came back to see why his sister did not join them He£ found her /looking out of the prey twilight landscape, and when. He laid hie hand oh her sh.oul.er and drew her around^ he saw tears in her cye3 * You promised no more ix-f look mourn fully into the past. It is'.nngiateful after' to-day's deliverance,' he said. V ' £ was not tbinkiii* o£ my past, aor of i myself.' . . . '??? . ??'.:? '?. ' : . ' :.-, . . '- ? :. ., * Of whom then P V, ? : *. I was thinking of little Sjtfdee/ : ?...?'*? t ' too be ^.coNTmrrsaxy. ...: - ;??»? , y--': . -.