|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Kysforyof the Eed House
^S' AMEEICAH STORY OF THEIL hllSG INTEREST, . _.
i By Mart E. Brtas.
(Commenced in tlie Evening ISfeics of Sep tember 20 J
CHAPTEE XLIII. Continued.
I T-; was rather premature, but be would I risi it. He threw vp his handsome head I xthieh. Lad been bent in thought, and vralked I up to his patron. I ' General,' he said in his penetrative, H JmirnoccivrA wnv ' lir»frtv*» Trnn lin.nl rlnwn
^H your colours in favour of Meathcliff, let ;^H jne ask you how a patriot, devoted to your ~^H Etate, ?will like being instrumental in putting ^H over that ''state, as its ruler, a man who is ;^H assessory to a black crime — a man who ^H harbours as his mistress a woman who is the ^H murderer of her husband ? ^H The General started as though a shell had ^H burst at his feet. ^M ' Hazard Hall/ he cried, ' what do you ^H mean ? Speak ; are you simply mad. or do j^H you mean my brother's muderess.' ^H ' I mean' Laura Montciam, who is con
-^M ceaiea in rais ciry uy nis Honor — tne iu.ayor ^M of Wailpori, ' ^H 'Do you make that assertion recklessly, -'^H pr have you a shadow of proof r' ^H ' I speak wLat I knoir. In one week ^H from to-day my proofs shall ba ready, ^H Postpone your vrithdrawal until then, and ^H if I do not- substantiate what I say, then lay '^H your sure chances at HeathcliiFs feet, and *^H I'll toss my chapeau in honor of the ^H Machinist Governor.' ^H 'The proofs of what you say. Give them ^B io me now. 'What is office or anything ^H fceside this — tta is debt I owe inv 'brother— to
? iii-ing his tenderer to punishment ? Don't I irifte with me boy. Where is Laura Mont ? calm?1 ? ' In one week from, to-day, general.' H ' Swear to me that she is in the city.' H Hazard thrust Ms slender lingers into his B tresst-pbcket and took out a small leather ? bound pocket-book. Opening its clasped I pages, he took, out and uncoiled a very I blender tress — a few hairs only — but quit9 I long and bright gold in color. ? '? This hair was growing on Laura Jlont H calm's head a few hours ago,' he said Then H iii answer to General Montcalm's fierce, H eager look, he said ; H ' In a week, General, I promise you shall I know all. Promise me in return that you H svill not withdraw from - the field in the ? sseantiine.* ? ' You have my promise.' the General B answered
I CHAPTEE XLIT H How earae Hazard Hall io be in possession ? of those golden hairs, which, as he said, had H a few hours before been growing on the head H of Laura Montcalm ? On the evening; ? iefore. Miss Faust had attended the funeral ? of the supposed Kiidee, she had driven to H ik9 cemetery in the mayor's carriage — its H only occupant. While she sobbed behind H her veil, she had fallen under the observing H eyes of Hazard Hall, who leaned a?ai=s£.a H tree noting everything that passed with an H eye to a sensational account in The Rattler ? joi the burial of HeathclifFs young bride. H miss 1'aust was too much distressed to heed H ns E2rufiny. She had turned on her seat H and rested Ler head sideways against the H damask'-lined' back oil the carriage. When H;ehe would have lifted it there seeemd some ? thing in the way of her doing so. A portion H of her hair or of her veil had caught on H come protuberance. She gare a slight jerk H and extricated herself ; thsn rather con ? sfcsedly rearranged her veil and hair. She H had not seen Hazard Hall start and lean H eagerly forward, snatch a tiny magnifying H glass fromhis pocket, and regard her in ? iently through it. What was it that had ? caught his eyes ? A gleam of color in the
^^m tumult! wia,uh. ctuu grey or isxiss rausi s neaa ^M '—a gleam of gold — a gleam of yellow hair, ^1 yellow hair under tbafc mass of grey, nearly ^H *rhiie locke. How did this happen ? It ^B must be that the grey hair was artificial, ^H and the golden hair the wearer's own. But ^H why should the possessor of such lovely hair ^H ceek to hide it — why bat as a disguise ? ^M 'If I could touch that hair as well as see ^1 it,' thought Hazard. He kept his eyes on ^H the carriage and its occupant, ' but saw ^H Nothing mere to feed his suspicion. Before ^H |he funeral was quite over he drove back to ^m the town in the buggy of a friend and had ^H Iiimself put down near the Red House. He ^H took his position near* the gate wishing to ^H Scrutinize Miss Faust when she descended ^H from the carriage. He leaned against the ^H eteep bank topped by the iron-spiked brick ^H 'frail, ancL pretended to scribble in his note ^B book, jae had not lonsr to wait. The ?? carriage turned the street' corner and drew ?I fep ia front of the locked gate . Miss Eaust ?? Blighted j miimed up as usual, and ber long, ?? black veil enveloped' her. Black glorea ?? covered her hands and wrists, but Hazard HJ taw a small portion of her bare arm above
^_ *uC jiiuves, auu uiai small section oz arm ^H Vas dazzlingly .-white and dainttly round. ^H Galeb ivaa at the great gate, and unlocked ^H ^nd opened. It for ner. It swung to and ^?fastened, with a spring-, and the Sphinx ^H passed ont of -sight JDto her shadowy home ^|as secluded and unseen in the midst of the ^B ipity as though it were in the hearf. of the ^B ^ilderness, ' Jhe driver had stared after the ^?fingnlar figure in never-sated curiosity. ^?Before he could gather up the reins and ^H Start his horses Hazard Hall had sprang ^H lightly into the carriage. The man turned ^?fcround snd glared at, the intruder, but ^H Hazard disarmed him by saying airily, as he ^M tossed him half a dollar : -..'.. ^H ' I'll lide.wiiftijrou up to Heathcliff's ae ^H long as you lhaven't a passenger,' ^M t The man tbucTied Mb fcafc. * All right, ^?Cir.' he said; and the sleek bays trotted ^?twray. ' ' ; ''; V ^:;- -- -;. ' ; . :?? ', ^H Hazaxdimniediatelybegana,nesamination ^H of -the back of ihe carriage 'seat1 against ? 'ffhich 3^'^siis£'s-'*;li^al'''liaa.;'.:test8dL*' It ^H ^as cushioned in green jdamask, and there ^M Were ornamental Btuds here and there of ^B carved silver. iOne of these ?prptrcdedTui- !? Jfarrantably, and attached to this Hazard ^H *°tmd the 'object of his search, a'few strinds ^?©f hair; He iad felt sore: some of the
H jpd- been ptjUed out when she gave tba£ H 56rk, Sure ^enough here it was, and not H ferey either, but, as he Lad ioped, yellow ? and silken. Hetunfasjtened them from the' ? Silver tackJ;ie;Bmoothed;^^^ H ^^id ^iii^eif - ^|iisl^ir never came ? from the wbi^ «f ^^^
Laura Montcalm had just saeh hair — ^libe the Borgia's tresses o£ spun gold, so the old general said. The woman at the Bed House is Laura Mcntcalm in disguise/ The thought flashed into his brain with the force of conviction, but the Beit instant he shook his head. - ' ^'o, pshaw ! — co. It is' absurd. Those j ugly, deformed features; that great, hooked nose, the purple mark disfiguring one side of her face. Besides Miss Faust lias lived here in the Eed House for seven years, and it has only been two years since the Mont- i calm mardur. If this is Laura Montcalm, where is Margaret Faust ?' He mused a moment then threw up his head m his abrupt way, shaking hack his crulj hair. ' Once Miss Fan si left this city, went back to Germany to see her brother. She went in her secret silent way ; she returned in the same fashion ; nobody seems to have seen her when she left, or when she returned — nobody but Heathcliff It was two year3 and six months ago that she went ; it is just two years since she came back ; and it is just two years since Laura Montcalm fled from her home after stabbing her husband with a jewelled toy dagger she Lad worn all day in her belt This 13 a suspicion which is strong enough to hang a suspicion upon. I'll test its strength before I stop.' But he made no further move up to the next day when he played his bluff game on General Montcalm, in order to prevent that candidate from ' backing down ; as he phrased it. lie had pledged himself to bring proof of HeathclifFs guilt within a week ; he must go to work at once. He rushed off to the beach and walked the sandy shore for ail hour, hearing the tide roll in with its deep, soothing murmur. An
idea came to lum. lie went back into the city, and stepped into the post-office. He knew the chief official of the delivery depart ment — everybody knew jolly Jack Noel, who had been in the office fifteen years, never forgot a face, or a name, or a date, and was prompt in business as he was in tongue. * Hunting np a victim ?' he said, when he saw the young journalist and his note book. ' I*To ; I have just found him,' returned Hazard, taking out' hi3 pencil ' Don't think to interview me about the post-office if rsgularities- I'm as mum as — ' ' A fig for the irregularities. Everything will be out in spite of the hushing up But I'm not barking up that tree ; I'm trying to find out about our eccentric fellow-citizen, Miss Faust of the Eed House. She is a' mystery and a monstrosity ; she will make a capital subject for a write-up.' ' What the dragon do I know about her ? Never heard her speak, and never saw
lie? ia my iiie except tarougii veils and mufflers.' ' Neither did anybody else! But you can tell me something about her corres pondence. She has money and must have business transactions. Does she ever receive registered letters ?'- 'Never. Nor any letters of any kind, the boys tell me, except that one from her brother that too'i her back to Germany to forgive him on his death-bed. She had quarrelled with him, it seems, because be had married at the tender age of forty. She holds marriage as a holy horror, it being a closed paradise to her witchship.' 1 And her brother died ?' ' Yes, sue wrote a letter full of remorse, Heathcliff told . me He's her business manager you know- I remember the quaint, cramped handwriting and the black-bordered envelopes covered with foreign stamps Heathcliff just got such another letter a few months afterward, and I made sure the old lady was dead this time, but when I met him and asked him he told me she had just got back.' Hazard's eyes gave one of their quick, bright Sashes. He made a mental note of this. He now put the question he had come to ask. ' Where did her brother die ?' ' At Heidelberg. He was a professor in the University there But what the mis chief do you want to know all this bosh for ?' /? I have to help feed an insaiiable monster — public curiosity. Mis3 Faust is something of a Sphiax. I find there is great eagerness to peer behind her veil literal ly and meta phorically. I wili lift it a little for the public benefit.' * And she will lift you, my boy. They say she's got a devil of a temper.' ' I'll make love to her and she'll forgive me/ laughed Hazard as he left the room. He went to the telegraph office-and dis patched this message to New Tork and thence to Heidelberg, Germany. It was simply the question : 1 Is Margaret l^aust, sister of Professor Faust in yonr city ?' The message was addressed to the Faculty of Heidelberg University. Hazard waited w^th feverish impatience for the reply. Three days, passed before it came. His fingers shook so h* could hardly tear open the envelope, his head swam so he could hardly read tbe half dozen words. But he did read them and all the blood in 'his body went to his heart in one throb of triumph. The aiwwerjsvas this -: ? Miss Faust has been dead two years.' For a few .minutes he felt his cause was gained. He was on the point of rushing off to the General, and waving 'the 'tell-tale message under his nose, ,ihen to the clerk of the court to get a warrant for the arrest of Laura Montcalm. The triumph of suc ceeding was his ; he thought of it with more elation than of the large reward he eould claim, though he by no means, undervalued money- Bnt a little reflection toned down his elation- His work was not done. He had in his hand the proof that the woman at the Eed House was an impostor, but he did not have the proo£4hat she was Laura Mont calm. And he must possess himself of this ;beyohd a doubt. He 'had made one* faux pas in that direction.; lie would make sore before he next descended^On 'the castle of the Sphinx. He must nncL some way to gain access to tha Red iTouse, spy- Miss Faust in her secret boudoir when she .had removed her disguise that she might look fair in the eyes'of her lover — the worthy mayor — compare her face with that of Laura ?Montcalm and then spring his trap. He took the picture irom Ms pocket and looked as it earnestly as lie did every day of his life, for the 'ripe loveliness of this fair 'woman was alluring to the eyes 'of this [ijeauty worshipped The picture had, 'besides, a higher and subtler charm, emanating from the Bad, appealing «yes. They seemed to look at him now with 'sorrowful reproach. He was seekng her life and she had been eo beautiful.- She had been so wxongecU; an unloved wife, ecorned -'?. 's;' ~ ^ «
and taunted by her husband, threatened by him with disgrace when another day should dawn perhaps threatened with violence and death. Who knew ? Who could tell what had passed between those two that night after her return from the island, when they were alone in the house together ? Bat not long did any feeling of compas sionate hesitation visit the easrer, fevered j soul of Hazard Hall. Does the hunter stop for pity's sake when £he hunted game is ia eight, though its innocent sides *be panting, its eyes b!ood-shot, its steps tottering ? Tiie -bioad of this amateur detective was ( leaping with the excitement of the chase, He set to work on some plan by which he could get access to the Red House and its mistress. He 'would take no one in his counsel ; he would ask help of no one. * I will take as my motto what was written over the gates of the Enchanted Castle, 'Be bold,'' he said, Ib was a motto that well accorded with his adveniurpus, audacious spirit. (TO 33E CONTINUED.)