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Chapter NumberXXII.
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-10-12
Page Number7
Word Count2443
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

Hystery of the Red House


Br Maet E. Bbtan.

{Commenced in the Evening News of Sep tember 20J


The morning wore on, and no Max came to lbe rescue/ no Papa Duck, no mayor armed with authority -to free her from her prison and protect her from her pseudo mother An hour or so later she again, heard the errand of oars. Her heart beat 'wildly Could it be ber friends coming to her relief ? It vms only Gof£ returnirur after having

landed St. Peter on the wharf at YVauport. There was nothing in the bare, 3tripped room to divert the girl — not a picture, net a book not a piece of work. She had only to bit and brood over the sitnation in which the treachery of others had involved her. gae walked the floor until she was ready to drop with weariness. There was a sound at the door ; she heard the key turning, and Btood still with throbbing pulses. The door opened. Sophie's 'broad, stolid face appeared behind a tray of luncheon, and behind her loomed up the tall, stout figure ofGoS Kildee turned sick wita disgust asd disappointment She signed for the Troman to put down the tray and leave her. Sophie pointei to a note lying on. the tray and said : ' I was to wait for an answer.' Kildee tore the note open and read : ' I know your situation, and, as a friend to you and ft Bervsnt of the Divine Master, I ask an interview with you. I might ba able to do you some good. — Joel Gibson.' ' Tell him I will see him at once,' said Kildee, wondering why she had not before 'thought of this man, and of the probability that he was under the same roof with her. She had seen him enter the house with Car leon that same night whosa ending had found her a prisoner, but she supposed he had left next morning long before uhe woke from her unnatural sleep. She had not liked Iii3 face or his voice when he came with Mrs Gonzalis in the character of her referee at Bock Spring. And yet she could not have told why His face was benignant, fatherly, his voice sweet and persuasive, his ap pearance and manner entirely patriarchal. ' Be cannot be a bad man. I feel safer nowl know that he is here,' she said to herself as she waited impatiently for his entrance. He came at length, The very sight of I his silvery flowing beard and kind 6miie disarmed her of fear and her faint linger ing1 suspicion.

' You have not eaten your luncheon. ; shall we partake together ?' he said at the | same time laying on her plate a freshly | gathered lily. She inhaled its delicate i pefrniEe srratef nlly. It brought a message of comfort, and she took her seat opposite : her venerable-looking visitor with a 'smile ; on her lips and a color in her cheeks that tad been so wan a little while before He i bent his patriarchal beard until it touched ; the plate and murmured a blessing ; then he helped Kildee to cold chicken and claret, and talked pleasantly oE matters and things in the ontside world, while he discussed the luncheon with zest, and yet with good breeding. Had he not been born without the moral sense, he vrould have been a gentleman He had good impulses occasion ally, hut they were like -the legless birds of the Arabian fable; they never alighted. Sometimes when he had taken an extra mint-jnlip he would grow melancholy and repentant, would curse Carieon and his own indolent, self-indulgent nature that made him this man's tool ; but his repentance always stopped short of amendment. And it is not to be denied that he took a positive pleasure in humbugging his kind and in getting off upon them any little job of intricate knavery, the lock of which defied picking. He had enteredz estf ally into the iob he had now in hand ; it was * nice,* it required skilful handling, and turned upon a gift which he was Becretly proud to possess, but never dared boast of or display, except in the slight degree which is called magnetism. ihis gift was the faculty of mesmerising. ?After the repast the patriarchal Joel patted Kildee's brown head, saying, ' Go aad pnfc yonr flower in some water, iny child,' and with his own white, plump hands he piled the dishes in the tray and spread the white towel over it. Then he drew two chairs near the window and sat in one of 'em, desiring Kildee to take the other. ' Sow, my daughter,' he said, * tell me all about this trouble — your side of the story, I mean. I have heard your mother's, I am an old friend of hers — knew her long before she was as old as you — knew you as £ baby in her arms ' 'Then she is my mother*?' Kildee said,/ and the pained, disappointed tone of heir voice could not be mistaken. ] ' Certainly she is your mother, and a ver^ good mother she was, but poverty and triads and ill- health have made her a little harfd and selOsh, I am afraid It ia not to $e Pondered at, and you must not be too bap-d upon her because of it She is influenced Dow more by the belief that she is acting for yoar good than by any desire of b£ne fittisg . herself. Bat never mind ; L- am iere to listen to you first ; afterward,/witb Jonr permission, 1 will talk a little. /Begin and tell me something of your life. Who is this Max whom your mother imagines stands in the way of your accepting t! ierich and accomplished gentleman who seems to love you bo dearly?* I Eildee began the story oi her life/fcelling « as simply and briefly -as she knejw how ?the venerable magistrate— Carleon/s money iad helped him to get the office-/-sat just opposite her ; Kb deep-set, grer-g*een eyes toed themselves upon her face jf he save Mtle sighs of sympathy as -she ^proceeded j presently his hand clasped aSe of hera and his face grew luminous yet/ misty He uttered little' tender sympaJt^etfic comments Sow and then, and his rigM hand moved slowl?, as though he wepfe unconsciously wnBhing away a disttu-Mng fly. Kiidee ioand herself rambliiig^trangeJy in. lier story, growing disconnJg|fced, and losing the thread, to pick it atf 'troth '.am effort that grew more difficult eafch time to make. la vain Bhe strot?gled agijist tjie feeling ; her senses, her wiU seemed! floating away from her; she caught at thfah i&ain and again; 'at the attempt to arrest them was futile ±ier own voice grew flteejimy; to her ears; *ae face opposite Ws^w&foin. a mist j she could only^eef toj tt*|||^8hi«ng -eye- . 'c^Sf^J^y|t;,;,.:.'.-; ; '? :/..

to drown her in their lumuioas sea. At length her voice died to a murmur, her white lids were half drooped and trcmulnos like lily -buds on srentle undulating water. Joel Gibson smiled and made a few more passes with his white, fat hand. Her lips ceased to move, her lids to tremble A few more passes yet She sat upright, motion less — a beautiful statue of marble. * Kildee, go and bring me yonder lily,* he' said under his breath. She rose, walked straight to the table, took the flower he had given her from the glass, and brought it to him * Now sit still,' he said yet lower. She seated herself in the chair, and he left the room returning in a few moments with Mme. Gonzalis. ' There.' he said, smiling, painting to Kildee ; ' you can prepare her for her wedding, if there is any adornment needed. You had better arrange her hair and put this flower in her curls ; she will look more bride-like in the eyes of your two Russian witnesses- She will do anything I tell her to do She is passive in my hands I control her through the magnetic spell,* he vrent on, seeing Mrs. Gonzalis standing before the white, still girl, with a look of awe and remorse on. her face. * Oh, she looks death- like ; I cannot bear to touch her !' cried the woman. ' Death-like I Not a bit. See her light up now Kildee, smile,' he said, and the sweet, still lips of the statue parted radiantly. Mme. Gonzalis be?an softly to smooth her enrps, and fastened some fine, soft lace around her throat, with, a pretty pin she took from her own collar. As she made, in this simple manner, the toilet of the un conscious bride, the tears dropped on the sallow cheeks When she had finished, she put back a rebellious curl with a tender, lingering iouch, and kissed the white fore head it had shaded. ' Forgive me, my sweet child — God in heaven forgive me !' she murmured' Tben she turned to Gibson, who stood looking complacently at Kiidee, his hands clasped on his capacious stomach. * Will her eyes remain closed as they are now ?' she asked. * No, she will open them when I will her to, though they will have no speculiction She will speak, too, when I will her to speak. Have you never before seen a person mesmerised ?' ' Yes,' Mme. Gonzalis said briefly. ' Bat it seems dreadful for one to ba married while in this blind, unconscious state ' * Women are usually blind when they marry,' said the Rev. Joel, smiling, rubbing his white hands gently together. ' Blind with love, or vanity, or greed of money and clothes, It is as well to be

little one ready ?' ' Yes,' said the woman, turning her eyea with difficulty from the painful fascination of the girl's white, sweet face. ' Call Carieon then The bridegroom is no doubt impatient And let the parlor be darkened, and the caudles be lighted, and the witnesses in places. I like to do things in style.' ?

CHAPTEE XXIII. Mrs. Gonzalis re-entered the room alone. ' Carieon is in the drawing-room,' she said ' He is striding up and down like one possessed. I spoke to him bus he did not seem to heed me ' ' He has one of his absented.minded fits,' said Gibson. ' Well, we ean't wait on his moods. 1 want to get the thing over. I confess I feel a bit nervous. So, we will go down to him, Mme, Gonzalis- Kildee, we will go down.' He put her hand beneath his arm aud they went downstairs followed by -Mme. G-onzalis. The blinds of the long drawing room had been closed, the heavy curtains dropped, and the candles lighted Enough daylight struggled through and mixed with the artificial illumination, to produce a wierd effect. The pictures and the statues bore the semblance of ghastly life. GoS and Mb wife in their Sunday attire sat bolt upright a^ainBt the wall Their faces wore a puzzled, half-frightened expression. The master ot Aphrodite loosed like any thing but a bridegroom. Habitually fault less in his dre38, his necktie was now awry, his hair disordered as though he had thrust his fingers Mildly through it in his rapid walk about/the room. A battle was going on in the Enan's soul ; the dull, lurid glow in his ey-g betrayed it. Joel Gibson looked at him doubtfully : so migb^t a jackal eye his tiger comrade in a cage, Uncertain what might be the stronger animal's mood. JSuc he said cheerfully, exulting in his having made good His word to lender Kiidee passive to his will : ,-?* Mr Carieon, yoar bride waits for yon .' ) The master of Aphrodite wheeled and saw I&e white, statuesque girl. His own face /grew aB pale ; he did not offer to approach her. Gibson waited a minute, then he said under his breath to Kildee : ' Open your eyes and go to Mr. Carieon.' She hesitated ; a ripple of troubled feeling passed over her face ; her eyelids twitched, but did not unclose Gibson fastened his green eyes upon her and passed his hand before her brow once and again ; then, in a yet lower tone, he repeated his command. Her eyes opened wide, but it was plain they were unseeing : their look was 'fixed and vacant. She moved slowly from his side and approached Carieon. Though her wiil was paralysed by the magnetic influence, yet she seemed dimly conscious of what was happening to her, and feebly struggling to assert herself as one does in a nightmare, a trance, or /in a state of BomnambnHsm. Carieon stood looking at her like one under a spell. __Tbe vague pathetic appeal of tbat__uneonscious face, with .its fixed visionless gaze and troubled brow, gave point to the sword of remorse which was in his heart. On the other hand, never had the beauty and sweet grace of the girl moved him so strongly Warred upon by too opposite emotions, he stood still, his breath coming heavily, his eyes ri vetted on Kiidee. Gibson walked to the window and peered through the blinds. He was fearful of being interrupted. The part he was playing was rather *Tifikjr '? and Joel Gibson, Esq., had his respectable reputation to sustam. He became im patient ; he walked back to the table, took up a book containing the marriage formula, and looked across at Kildee. ' Give Mr Carieon your hand/ he said. A shiver passed over her; slowly, reluctantly, she stretched oat her hand, Carieon started when her cold little fingers touched his, then he grasped her hand — suddenly, with a fierce compression oE the 35*1*- ???'??

Gibson drew a breath of relief. * We will proceed,' he said. ' The ceremony wiil be bfief. Here I hold ia my hand the customary permit of the Court, which authorises me to unite Miles Carieon and Jasmina Gonzalis in marriage. Miles Carieon, will' you take this lady, Jasmina Gonzalis, to be your wedded wife ? Will you ?' * No.' The monosyllable burst from him ss though it were forced out by some powerful exertion of his will He dropped the hand of the girl and folded his arms across his chest. (to be continued.)