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Chapter NumberXVI.
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-10-06
Page Number7
Word Count3324
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
Trove TitleMystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest
article text

Mystery of the Bed Mouse


Bt Maby E. Betas.

CCcj?M»encei in /fte Evening N&os of S&p- tender 20 J CHAPTER XVI.

No wonder thp,t young Hall bad tio time and little sympathy to bestow on his friend, Mas, in his distress at the loss of Kildee. Hazard was too fall of plans and anxieties of. his own. Three schemes -seethed in his

busy brain ; tp win Honor Monfcalm ; to trace the murderer of her uncle, and to brine? about t'ie nomination and election of her father, thereby securing future political influence to forward his own advancement. These were the ends which he determined to compass. Their accomplishment woald hare eeemau. an absurd dream to a less daring aad pj.nguine spirit. Strangely enough, the planB hung together by a.ehain of subtle sequence — the success of one depended upon the success of the other. Ii ho could succeed in breaking oS the engagement between Eonqr and Heath cliff, then Qeneral Montealm would feel free to declare himself a eandidute for the office he would be likely to win. Could he sift the murder 01 Captain Montcalm to the bottom and prove that the Mayor of Wall port was mixed up with it, then the connec tion between Heatheliff and Miss Montcalm v.onld be at once disrupted, and his rival in 'ore and opposer in politics would be driven from either' field. Bat how dared he dream that the upright and honored Ira Heatheliff had any connec tion with that bloody drama— that this man who was president of various humane and Christian associations wa ; the harborer of a murderesB ? He had no ground for sus-» picion beyond the declaration of the work man that he had seen Laura Montcalm enter the I-iaypr's pfemises p» the night of the murder — this, «iken iQ connection with that mysterious noie which he — ^-Hazard — had read upon the Mayor's desk, and the writer of which he believed to be a secret inmate or the Red House — the abode of. the Mayor's deformed client. Y es, there was a woman secreted there, it Yfa-3 her voice he had heard singing ; ife ?R-as her graceful shape he had seen through the window, it was more than possible that tins was Laura Montcalm — the woman upon v/Loie head so large a price had been set and for whom the police had. searched in vain With his brain at fever heat, Hazard hurried through his office work each day that he mi^ht haunt the neighborhood of the Red House Once or twice he heard a no.'e of tbe same sweet voice, but he saw bo one to niiiteb the voice Irdeed, the position Gf the house baffled his efforts to gee eyen its exterior, or what was going on in the grounds about it. He resorted to stratagem to effect an en trance into the guarded precincts. Finding that he could not bribe the vigilant negro watch-dpg, l:o tried to obtain admission under various disguises and pretexts He got himself up as a lace pedlar, a piano tuner, a beggar in great distress, an old woman fortune-teller wiio had something of great importance to communicate. But none of these a*vf nl dodges moved the Cer berus io breiik hi3 mistress's orders He met every appeal with the same shake of his iron-grey head and the reply : f Missis, don't see no company.' At last Hazard resolved to storm the citadel more bqidly. lie buttoned a doable-breasted, lopg iaiied coat over two others which he had ou, in order to make his dimensions more im posing, donned a high silk hat, a pair 'of huge whiskers, glasses, and a great wateh chaia and seal rin^, and, farther equipped witu a big blank-book under his arm and a gold headed cane, be rang the gate-bell of the lied House. Wuea the old negro appeared he cut short ihe functionary's usual formula by curtly demanding admission as aa officer of the State — a taker of the census. The pompous air. the big watch-chain, and the bold com mand carried the point. The gale swung back, and Hazard presently found himself ia ths dim, . musty-smeliinj, never-used parlor cf the Red House it was some time before the mistress of tbe house appeared She came in at last with a slow, uncertain step, and, just bend ing her head, sank into a chair near the door. It was evident i hat she was painfully sensitive about her deformity. She wore the veil of a durk gauze fastened over her plentiful grey hair ; Ijuc Hazard could eee through it the purple mark disfiguring one side ot her face and a portion of her ueoir, giving her a strangely repulsive look Aside from, this disfigurement, her hooked nose and wrinkled cheeks were not pleasant to look upon. She wore bine goggles over eyes whose lids had a trick of twitching and drawing together, which might be owing to nervous shyness. Her manner was fluttered and timid, yet not devoid of a certain dignity aod refinement. -She directed a penetrating look at Hazard from her queer, contracted eyes from behind the blue goggles, aad he fel* himself coloring imJer his sham whiskers ; bet his native assurance ca-aie to his aid, and he bowed to her ia a briskly dignified otficia! way, and he informed her rhac he w?«s enj&ped in estimating the popu lation of t- e city anJ had called upon herin .that capacity. Then, opening his great blani-boak with a iiourisb and poising his pencil, hepQtfobgptbe eastpmary questions of the census-tskerr-^as to her name, age. place pf birth, and £n?U? thp number of persons in her family A*s he put $he. last question he kept ^searching eye fixed upon her^, She repljed V 'The other person? on the premises beside myaelf are .two negrp 'servants— a man and a woman named-— -' ? . . , 'The while inmates of your house first, j f yoii please,* ?interrupted Hazard. : ?'* 1 should prefer to see threm Indeed, it is; nsy duty to pat the ctuesfcions direct to all acfolt persjn?.' . ... ' There . is no white i a mate of the house besides mvself ' , / .

?Ko member of your family, perhaps, but there is some other occupant— a visitor^ or—' ? . : '.?.'.?* ? ? : ; Np §11* there fe no one, I Hye alone/. r|s it &?$ -.Pardon me, bat 1 mast be es»qt«-it is my 'business to'be ;' and these que§f jenaWI BfeS Jiot inform a Jady ©f^bpr: intelligence mw& '?'«? ^wm^WmM^ Bo I i%en W^}^tan^yQnioM&f i}^t -t\ierp is not, and has 'not fctfly been, ainy wMifce person beside; v^nrsfclf iiyin^' on. ;tliesf ! I P^&wfV- '?;U^;;v^.': ?-;?-' 7:-W/:^A

* It 13 what I said, sir, and what I repeat, . returned the lady, W«ghtilv She rose as though |p end the interview V ier crooked figure seemed almost to straighten, and her drawn eyes emitted aa indignant $a«h upon ihe intruder. ' If you wish to sea the two negroes, I will fiend them to you in the .yard,' she said, dismissing him with a wave of her small, black-mifcteaed hand Chagrined and disappointed, Hazard yet determined to carry his stratagem as far as he could He mi°ht gain something by in terrogating the negroes. But when he had them before him as he cat on a rustic bench under one of the trees, he found that his cross-questioning failed to elicit anything

but what he had heard rrom the mistress herself. The negro woman, a tidy, middle aged person, t»ad been with Miss Faust nearly two years ?, the man had been her iaeiotum at the .Red House ever since she had been in Wallport — ' Seven years, come ne^i Christmas,' he said. It was an easy place, only he wished ' folks would quit worriiting his mistress. She didn't want people to come staring at her misformities. J never stares at her myself. She told me from de fust it hurt her feel in' a, and Vee took care not to Jook her hard in the face ever since ; I }est glances at her sidelike? The pretended census-taker departed but little wi^er than when he came. Still, ail he had heard had not done away witL his persistent be.ieii that there was a secret inmate of the bous9 Through all Miss Faust's haughty decision, he had, as he thought detected a certain perturbation and hesitancy that seemed to argue there was something wrong. But what step should he take next ? There was the vacaut building on the lot adjoining the Red House— the same into the yard of which he had made his way thaf ni^ht, and climbing into a fork oE a tree had seen the lady's shape through the j windew. This building was stili ' to let,' as he saw by fche green card upon the dcor j The idea came to him, as by a flash, to rent the house for awhile and make is the base of his detective operations. An end window near the back oH the bnilding would afford a view of the window in the Red House through which Hazard had seen the graceful vision. He went a6 once to the real estate agent whose name was on the card and rented the old oat-of-repair house for tiro months He did noS, however, remove the sign ' to let,' nor did he ppenpy the building, only ta slip in at odd times during the day and ni^rht, and make his way to the side window of the rear room, there to keep watoh through the blinds upon the movements of ihe occupants of the mstarious house .For awhi!e nofchin ^ rewarded his labors. Occasionally the blinds of the one window not hidden from him by intervening trees were thrown opeu, and he had a view of a pretty interior^-eyidently a bondoir or private sitting-room, with a background of pale' tinted wall, relieved hv pictures, flowers, and a swinging bird's cage of silver wire. Se/eral times he had seen Mass Faust seatsd by the tablo reading:, or standing be side the eas/e, feeding her birds Only once had he seen her without the veil Then she was evidently alone As old Caleb had said, she shrank from fully exposing her dis figured face even to the servants. But it was not the deformed old recluse that Hazard watched for with such stealthy intenmess And as yet no form but her misshapen one, and the rotund figure of her dusky maid, had appeared within the space framed by the long French windows Hazard's hope was beginning to falter, but he did not relax his vigi ance-^rather he in creased it. And at last his patient watching was crowned with something akin to success. One evening, just at dusk:, he saw the mayor enter the gale of the Red House ' Hazard ' had followed Heatheliff at a little distance i and seen him. stop first at a bock. store where he bought a new magazins, and then at a pretty stall, lighted with Chinese lanterns, where he purchased a basket of grapes arranged witii their own fresh iea *e3 W ith the basket in his hand, and the magazine in his coat pocket, he mounted the stone steps of the terrace and unlocked the gate with a key ha took from bis pocket . No sooner was he inside the enclosure than Hazard hastened around the corner and made his way to thB old house he had rented. Going round to the back entrance, he exchanged his boots for carpet slippers (a precaution he always took), and entered the .dark empty house He wotxld light no lamp lest he should put the inmates of the Bed House

on their guard. Arrived at his post of observation,, he saw to his chagrin that the blinds of fche window were closed But another look showed him that the blats were turned so as to admit the ail', and this allowed him a partial view o£ any object that might come within the lighted parallelogram The evening was so still that the slightest noise made itself heard. He caught the sound of a rap on the boudoir door, and immediately a fSgura passed across the lighted space., as though coming from an adjoining room. It passed with a swift, gliding motion, but, in spite of the inter vening slats, he saw that It was the same shapely, flexible form be had seen before. In another moment two figpres were partially seen behind fche turned blind. 'Gno seemed the mayor s stately, erect form ; the other was the slender shape which had crossed the room. She seemed to bend and hold oat her hands as though to receive somethingr doubtless the basket of grapes Then she lifted her heal ; the tali figure stooped, and Hazard could almost have sworn that a kiss had been given aad received. They niovea away from the window, and Hazard saw them no more together. But an hour later he saw.tfap female figure again cross the space beaind tae turned blinds, and said to himself : . ''-—„?' - ,* She has gone ia her bed-chamber.* Hurrying -out o£ the chouse, Hazard reached the corner o£ tho street in time to j see the mayor's unnjistakable figure pass a gas-lamp eome distance op the sti*eet. '; ^ jSext; djy P&?api #id io General Mont calm?. . ' , ?'?-'' '?'.?? ' '4- '''?-'' ':-V:'; 'J3ave you found ttat pic inn© ©£ yoaiv brother's wife?' * What, the miniature painted on iyory ? So, the housekeeper has been looking for it ;{3he nicked it vp ^rhf n I thre^ it ^t p| the window, and put it somewhere jamong Jber effects, i never thought of its'tieing^isefaV so jrace her I on3y wanted to pnttlie face of |he traitress and muder-ess out- ot^iny : iigm3'.: ', ? /;?: : , ,v--fe'v:-;,-U:-';-^;; r, ?' Sad phe golden-Lrowa fcair ?? : ' * ;^MBS/.;,and; plenty ''Of -'it'.' ', if^jyjw; bie 'jpp. her mos| parked '^|eatnr^|?:.- W^' ^f^b^ fBjk-?/.',;-,:PiinB ^j^ '-Ipaaii-i-e^b^e'1 fwi 1ftuu!£

' I have found a — cine,' said Hazard, slowly, -bending once more over the artele he was copyin / from oae of the general's old fi lea of pol itical pape rs . * A rather im portant clue, I hope/ he added, after a pause ; ' but the time is not yet ripe to disclose ic. General, this ofd letter of Norton's will tell heavy against him. He's forgotten he ever uttered such rash sentiments Their re pubiication will be a startling torpedo in his path, We have a bomb preparing for Heath cliff, tod Wo are clearing the field for our independent candidate. It is time he entered the lists. When shall the *' Rattler ' an nonn ce you, general ? ' 1 Why, I supposed I had made it perfectly clear to your people that it was out of the question for me to ran when Heatheliff — ' * 'Was your prospective son-in-law. Yes, I know you turned that objection, but you also said that it the engagement were broken up—' ' Bnt the engagement will not be broken ? up. They are to be married in a few weeks. It is fixed as fate, you understand-' ' Yes, I understand,' Hazard repeated But he smiled to himself as he thrust hh nofce-book into his coat-pocket and lighted the cigar the general had just offered him He did not understand that this marriage was something as sure as fate. As the smoke curled up in graceful wreaths he watched it clreamliy and built 'upon it a pro phetic vision of Honor Monteaim, smiling and holding o^t to him wreaths wherewith to crown his victorious brow. CHAPTER XVII. The setting sun, bursting out below a black band of cloud that barred the west, lighted up Aphrodite Island with lurid illu mination. Standing in the clare on the sandy shore was a solitary girl's figure^ Eildee— looking oat wistfully across tbe waves to the mainland, to the roofs and steeples of the town. 'W hite- winged sloops sailed in the distance, Gutliced against the lurid sky. A steamer, outward bound, swept by. trailing her smoke wreatii. More than Gnca a wild impulse camp over Kildee to signal one of these vessel^ and begged to he carried away «iuy where. But what could she do ? Her friends had gone to a distance, and they had never wi'itten to her Max had not written ; he had not told her good-bye, even. ' He is angry with me because I came with my mother, and has east me off,' thought Kildee sorrowfully. ? Lottie had told her to send leltera to them at New Orleans, and she had 'written to her and to Mas lime and again, giving her letters to the solemn, taciturn liussian, who with his wife were tue only servants at Aphrodite, and who went to Wallport for the mf.rkefcinar, rowing himself in the Htt2e boat that was kept at the island. She coald \ not know that these letters v/erc not mailed, [ that they were broscfat back to Mine. Gon j zalis, who topk them from her pocket at ! night and. burned them leisurely and dreamily at her lamp ; Lottie's fervent little letters to her * darling Kilde© ' met the same fate Max did not write because he had been deceived by Mine Gonzalis into believing that she had taken Ellidee away for her health. Wistfully Kildee looked out over the sea — a bewildered pain and longing at her young heart. She was too inexperieaced to comprehend the situation in which she fonnd herself, or to know what tp do : but she felt instinctively that ifc was not good for her to be oa Aphrodite Island. Every sunset she walked to the sea-shore, and

looked, as now, over the expanse of heaving sea and around at fche tiny island that began to seem a cage When she had seen it first in the glamour of a rosv sunset, it had seemed a little paradise; it was after the serpent had left its trail. The flower beds were weed grown ; the shubbery was grow ing rank ; weeds choked the fountains and grew about the naked marble nymphs that guurded them. A subtly sensuous spirit pervaded the houst' inside. The rooms, for all their luxurious furbishing, had an air of disorderly abandonment ' You must find your chief entertainment here, my love,' said Mme. Gcngalis sinking into a rociin_'-chair, and indicating the boOishelves with a slim finoer, * for I warp you that you wiil have no society here. I nave bo acquaintances in. Wallport ; nobody ever comes here, and I shall be poor company for you My nervous system is a perfect wreck ; the mineral waters did me no goo4, nnd now 1 shall try entire rest. I will keep my room a good part of the time, and you must amusa yourself.' She did keep to her room and her bed, too . She never rose till near noon ; then she passed hours in her rocking-chair, read ing a liOvel or dawdling over some fancy work, only getting np to feed her canary and prattle tip it, oy to fill her lozenge box, or to inis 4ie juleps which she took regu larly She look tome thing else, as Kildee presently found out. ; Slje wa« a slave to opium. ; / ;:'?:./ ??? ? ?'?????-?? '' ;'- ??'.'.';?;? ;, ./;?; ??'; ; :. ? ? '?? .(TO BE COKTINXrED.) ' \- ? ' , ' .-- ?' '?