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Chapter NumberXVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-10-08
Page Number7
Word Count3850
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

? 1 jster y of the Red House


^H By Mart E. Bryan.

*^H (Commenced in tlie Evening News of Sep ^m tember 20J

? CHAPTER XVII.— Continued

^B Thus idleness and solitude co-operated ^B Tvitli the insidious spirit of the place to create ^B a moral miasma slowly enervating and ^B undermining;. Kildee felt it stealing over

^H her, and became restless and feverish under ^B it. The island seemed a cage ; the sea, at |H first a deep joy, became a voice of solemn ^B foreboding. She sought indoors some relief |B to tbo solitude that oppressed her She ^H found oniy the piano, the Euperb but ^B tarnished old harp which she could not play, ^H the pictures and trench novels. She ^H did not blush so paiafully now when she HB ]oolied at the pictures. The symmetry of ^B form, tire, glow of color appealed to her ^B impassioaate sense of beauty. The books ^B she read with wonder and bewilderment. ^B The world they revealed was new to her. ^B They set her brain- whirling : they confused ^B her ideas of right and wrong before so clear. ^B She siiook off their spell and went to Mine. ^B Gonzalis.

H ' Give me some work, please — somethina ^B for my hands to do — some sewirig cr house ^M work ; or may I garden ?' H ' There is nothni^ you need to do. I H prefer to buy clothes ready made. Sophie H does not wish her housework meddled with, H and you need not do anything in the yard H because this place does not belong to me.' H 'Not belong to you? 'Why I thought — ' ^m ' I^o ; you may as well know th.9 truth ; ^B I am living heipe only through the kindness ^| of a friend I have no means — not a dollar ^B of my own in the world i' ?J ' jSrot your heme ? You Lave qo means ? ^1 Eat you said you had money — a legacy left ?? ' Well, it is in law. I must gain a suit ?M before it is mine.' ?? ' Then let us gj away from here and ?flvork. — earn money somehow. lean, lam H sure.' ^M ' Go away, work ? in my weak health. — ^?what an idea V ^H 'Let me go, then. I am strong. Let me ^?go to the city and find work. There must ^?be a £ood deal to do among such a big hive ^?of peopb, ' hei Soff row me there ; I can ^B corns often, and brimr von what T wr-n '

Wm * Foolish little dreamer ! Ton could find ^B nothing to do, There are too many anxious, ^?unemployed, half-starved women there now ^?They wotild laugh at an ignorant little thing ^Hlikeyou. And do you imagine I would iet ^Bvon E° without me ? It wonid be very im . ?proper Why veill you be so restless ? j^^Content yourself here for the time. Read ^Bjour bouksf amuse yourself. I will ta'se Hfcare you are fed and clothed ' ^B ' Bat I cannot be con. ent ; I do not want ^?io be content — herein somebody else's lions-3. ^?Wlio is the owner of the house, and where ?is he ?'

^H ' He is Carleon, and I do not know where H|he is. He has other homes, and he travels ^?a great deal. We are welcome to stay here ' ^B ' But I do not want to stay here, and I ?cannot. The place seems like a gaol to me., ^M ' It is because you have had such a roving ^?life with those play people ' ^B ' Oil, would to tfeaven I were with, them ^?fiow,' Kildee cried passionately. ^M ' They do da not seem to share your Wish !' ^?returned Mine. Gronzaiis, a faint sneer upon ^B her mouth, ' You. have never heard from ? them, I think ' pM ' Something is wrong; they have written, ?I know ; they have not forgtten me bo soon.' ^B ' I do not know. Those stage people are ?light. Their profession makes every feeling ?Beeem a sort of plav, on which the curtain ??can easily drop Mark my words, they will ?never trouble themselves about you.' ? ' I will not believe it ; they are good and ?trne. Lottie loved me, I know ; and Mas ?— ok ! Max has cared for me and watched Hover me nearly all my life.'

^B Me wanted you to play a support to the ^?girl Lottie — his lady-love. He is her lover ? *-l could see that. He will probably marry ?ler in a little while.' ? ' Max Lottie's lover ! Oh, how absurd !' Hsaid Kildee, tears of bitter vexation spring ^?lng to her eyes. . H ' ^fby is ifc absurd ?' questioned the ? bpanish woman sharply, her black eyes full ? onKildee'sface. Kildee could have given H to reason. She only said -. ? ' Everything is absurd that you have told ?ine about my friends. It seems so mean to ?look at them in that light. I cannot bear it. ? I wish they had let me die in the garret.' ? 'You are merely learning what life is,' ? £Lrs, Gonzalis said, cooly eating a sweatuieat ^?iroia her lozenge- box. ? | Is everybody selfish and heartless, then ?' ? ,. Yes; everjone,' the woman said, with ^?bitter emphasis. ^m ' I'll meet them with their own weapons, H then !' Kldee cried. 'I'll go out in the ^?^orld and arm myself with selfishness, and ?fght for and win a place to stand and work ?^. IU mafce (^g ig^ me witll ^m to^ ?borrow. You must not try to keep me Hfrom going. I will come back when I gee ?»hatlcan-do/ l

? Mrs. Gkrazalis' did nst reply ; but that, ?j^enng she eent a note to Carleon. It had ?been his idea to let Kildee stay & few weeks ?ui his home on the island, so that solitude, ?the eeparaton irom and seeming Jieglect of ?ter friends, and sensuous influences eur ? founding- her might operate on her sensitive ?unagiuatifin and make her more ready to ^?^elcjme his society when be should come ^?He had reasoned subtly. In solitude the ? mind feeds on itsorfnjmaginiDgs, and when ?these are stimulated by insidiously evil sur ^?^andingfs the whoie ^ becomes fevered, ^?Kildee v^aely felt the moral malaria creep ?Inff into her. young blood, and .all the pure, Metro jg instincts of her nature rose against it ?and urged her to escape from these influ. ?ences. . . ', |H 'I will iell Gof£ he mast take me-to the ^?main these to-morrow,' she said to herself ?^ sbe stood in the red *unseib illumination, ^m *atehingiixe^lnsBian'«retarning%oat. She

had seen it a long way off, and waited im patiently for it to approach. She had still a faint hope of hearing from her friends — from Max at least. At last the boat grated on the eand, and the tall Russian stepped ont. ' Groff, is there a letter for me ?' He ehook his head. She turned off-, with starting tears. ' Let them go,' she mused bitterly. ' I will never write to them, never think of them again Yes, they are light, as she said ; they are heartless. How could they seem to lore me so and then so soon forget ute ! And Mas, who was more than a

ttrociier — 1 must put them out of my thoughts and make a new beginning of life to-morrow. Goff/ she said, turanig round to the Russian, * are you goinj: to the city in the morning ?' ' Yes, ' he answered eraffly. I am fjo'ng with you. You go early, I think ; I wiil be ready.' He looked at her without speaking. His stolid s'are dsiturbed her. She did not know that he had been told ' she was wrong in her head,' and was kept on the island as id a kind of private asylum. He had no iq tention of d ing ns she said, unless Mrs Gonzalis sanctioned her wish.

The next morning Kildea was vexed to hear that Gof£ had gone before she had eaten her breakfast. Something was needed in a hurry Mrs. Gonzalis explained, and Kildee was forced to pospoue her v.-sit to the main shore- She did not know when the Sussiau recurred , She passed the long, warm after noon in her room reading. When the shadows lengthened she went down to the shore and stood there motionless, thinking over the vague plans she had been tryiag to shape for her future. When the sun's red ball had sunk below the water, she went back to the house, ar.d Eat down near a west wiacow in the drawing-room. The sunset

crimson faded into purple. Shadowy, yet life like, looked the tiptoe Danas on the wall ? — naked, passion-pale, with eager, lifted arms to receive her descending Jove The Jasmine scent was overpoweringlv sweet, so was the low muruinr of the sea- winds ' Oil, if I had someone to share this life wit ft me !' was the unspoken si^h of the giri, whom the stveet, voluptuous idleness stung to a vaa;ue unrest. She started up. She had heard a note of masic — a melodious quiver of the strings of the oJd gilded harp, standing in the recess of the curtained 'buy-window. She* stood perfectly still and listened- The strings were touched again ; harmonious chords were struck ; then they grew into a faint symphony. Through the fringes of the curtains she had glimpses of a black clad arm, a white hand sweeping the strings. She softly approached the recess, and when the music stopped shy drew back a foid of the curtain, exclaiming : ' Why, mamma, you never told me you could play the harp !' She started. She had come face to facs with a stranger — a man, fair, handsome, with dark blue eyes that smiled kindly on her confusion as he rose, and bending his graceful head before her, begged that she

would not let him drive her away ' Jf 70U will star and read as absorbedly as you were doing just now, I will make no more disturbing noises. Tlii.3 old harp shall be as silent as the one that hung — Or the witoh-elm that shades Sfc. Piian'a Sptine. I only pl.iyed to see if you were real flesh and blood or a new statue that had been added to my collection in my absence.' ' Then you were here all the while ?' * I came in while you were reading — or dreaming, which was it ? I came home to day, at noon, ? while you wers takina: your siesta, and I went to my room to follow your example, for I was worn ont with travelling * ' You are not the owner of the island, surely ?'

? Why not ?' ' Oh, I thought he was an old, or at least an elderly gentleman.' (J am elderly/ Carleon said, with a smile. * You V She shook her head. * Tes, I am the owner oi lite island — Carleon you may call me. I don't come here often. I am a wanderer, but I like to drop sometimes and fold my wings for a little rest. Don't let my advent put you out at all. Mrs. Gonzalis knows my ways, I am a quiet old bachelor— ^as harmless a? your pet kitten — if you have one, which I doubt. You looked as solitary as Iphigena, standing out yonder on the sea-shore ' * So he was watching me, then,' thought fluttered Kildee, marvelling at the fascina tion of his voice and the sweetness of his smile.' ? I am afraid it is lonely here.' 'It is lonely sometimes,' Kildee admitted. * My mother is not well, and likes to be left to herself.' ? Why don't you make this grand lady talk to you ?' — ^touching the harp. * I have never learned the magic word to compel her to speak.'

* And yon would Ike to learn ?' ' Yes, I love music. I can play a little on the violin and the banjo, but I know nothing about the harp; only I like it. Its sounds make me think of the winds and the waves.' ' ; ' It was made ont of the soul ani form of a sea-nymph, you Hhow. What ? Yon hare not heard the legend ? Listen ' .« He swept his white hand over the chords in the rippling prelude of the * Origin of the Harp/ then song it ;.ihe sensuous sweet air-according well with his deep rich-throated voice. T ' ? *I shall siay. on. the island longer than usual this time, I think ; will yon let me teach you a little on the harp f' he asked, running his fingers through, his light curls and looking up at Kildee * Yoji are very kind, bat wejire not to be here long — at least I am not.' * Where are you going r' ? * 1 don't know yet— I am going Jho get .something to do. It seems we have mo money— only the prospect of some; bo Iain going to work and earn a support for ns.' *- Ton— my child ?' smiling in kindly derision. . * What can you do ?' '.Nothing that is great or grand X am quite ignorant, but there are many things I can do, and do well.; #u& X am quids £0

learn I don't dislike to work either, though it is pleasant to do nothing some times.' ' If yon are spoiling for something to do, I wish you would take my gardener in hand and put him to wofk getting the grounds is. better condition. They are eadly gone to wreck. The shnbbery and flower-beds are nearly ruined. Can I employ you as super visor?' 1 Employ, Mr. Carleon; you can command our services. We are dependent on you,' she answered with a little bitterness in her tones.

' I like to think I can command you, but you must not tali o£ dependence. You are niy0uest3 Mrs. Gonzalis is an old friend. And now, if I may command you, will you please have the candies lighted ?' ' I will light, them,' she said, and went across the hall to Mrs. Gonzalts's room for matches She found tiiat lady restlessly walking the floor. ' Come here, Kildee,' sue called sharply, and when the girl approached, she put her hands on her shoulders and looked keeaiy into her face. ' You have eeen Mr. Carleon, yon. have talked with him ?' ' Yes— mamma Why did you not tell me about him ?' * Why should I tell yo^i ?' ' Why that he is so — so nice and pleasant.' ' And handsome ?'

'Oh, he is rery handsome,' said Kildee, coloring under the woman's searching eyes. ' He asked me to light the tall was: candles; they have not been lighted since he came. Ought I not to change my dress before tea r' * Yes, go ; I will light the candles.' When Kildee came to tea in the simple whits dress with the short clustering curls bound hack with a ribbon, she looked so innocently lovely that a shade of remorse swept over Mme. Gonzalis's face, and she threw an appealing look at Carleon. He answered it with a careless half-smile and a shrug of his fine shoulders. There was a beautiful moonlight, and tlie three walked on the terracp after tea. Car leos put forth his rarei|-owers of pleasing— his art of varied talk and suggestive silence — ot listening with that rapt, flattering attentiveness ; his low, liquid laugh, his interest in the health and welfare of the being he wished to fascinate. It was not hard to eeem in this case. It was seldom his eyos had rested on anything sweeter than Kildee in her white dress, with the poetry of her nature giving a peculiar, unspeakable grace to her movements and to everything she said She was so happy at having companionship after her long loneli ness.

And sneb. companionship ! She listened to him. in delight. His gentle, respectful appreciation wen her from her shyness and charmed her into uttering thoughts and feelings she hal expressed to no one, not even Mar. Ibr not t-ven he seemed to understand her like this sweet-voiced sym pathetic stranger, not crudely yoang and over-joyous, but with a shade of melancholy in his polished tones sad dark blue eyes. CEAPTES XVIII. The dead calm of the day was about to be broken. Signs of strife were in the air. In opposite quarters of the sky, clouds were marshalling their forces. Tonjmes of flams leaped out at intervals, muttering thunders grew loader as the aerial cohorts neared their meeting in raid-heaven. Presently down rushed the rain flood. Miss Montealin aj«d Ira Heatiicliff watched it from her drawing-room window. She did not blanch at the lightning- ; a chord of her being responded to the music of the storm. When the cl imar came in a thunder burst that seemed the clash of colliding Titans, she snatched her fingers from her lover's hold and clasped her hands with an impulse more full o£ estacy than fear He looked at her uneasiiy Dearly as he loved her, there wers some moods of hers that troubled him. He caught glimpses in her of a restless intensity, an impatience of commonplace, an impassioned love of the grand and heroic which made it difficult, if not impossible, to reach or keep np the standard she exacted. It was a glorious tiling to be loved by such a spirit, high-bred .creature, but there was not much rest in it. When, at length, the fire and sonnd of the sloiid-contest wers quenched in the down

pour, Honor drew a full breath and turned her deep-lit eyes upon HeathclifE. * I like that,' she said. * It electriSes me to my finger tips. I like lightning, whether it flashes from clouds or human faces. I might never have given you. a second thought, Sir Ira, had I not seen the light ning flash from those cloudy grey eyes npon the burly policeman who was dras^iug, the old man to the lock-up, in spite of his little daughter's protest that he was not drank, but only sick. * That flash made the big brute drop his

raised club and hang his head as though struck by a veritable thunderbolt ; remember ?' ' I remember who stopped her carriage and took the old man to the hospital— good act, that made me give a second thought to one I had heard of as a mere city belle, with a heart as light as her plumes.' * As I had heard or. yon, sir, as a man without any such troublesome appendage as a heart— a money-making machine, grim, and hard as the engines in your pet factory ; your championship of the old man^howed a wider side to your character. As for a soft side--' ' ?

* You saw that when I fell . in. love with, you, and became «s wax in your hands ' *2ffoJ; much of the wax in your compo sition,' she said, looking up with pride tit her square-shouldered, firm-lipped hero. * Not much softness, even in your love making,' she fidded presently. He detected the slight bitterness that was in her tone. * If old you, dear Honor that it was not in my nature to show enthusiasm.' 'Yet yon. do possess enthusiasm. Yon show it is the pursuit of suraej and honors. Your ambition, though it is quiet, 33 deep and strong. Irs,* teasingly, but -with -a questioning wistftflness in 'her .dark teyes, * I do believe jou Icofc forward luyors

anxiously to the fifteenth oE Kovember, when yoa will probably be elected, than to the twentieth, of September (only three weeks off ; I can hardlv realize it), when Honor Montcalm will give herself into yoiir keeping — perhaps .' ' Yoa know well that it is not so. But why do you say ' perhaps '? Why should there be any ' perhaps ' in the case ? What but death can interpose to prevent our marriage ?' ' Oh ! many things,' she answered, archly, but with a slight shade on her brow. ' One of us may find out that he. or she is not what had been believed ; or I may drawback on the brink, afraid of that step :n the dark, which means more than life gt death to a woman- Marriage is a great risk.' ' Are you afraid ta dare ifc, Honor ?' Again she looked up at him. Her subtle glance seemed trying to pierce through his eyes to his inmost heart and read its secrets, * iNb,' she answered at last. ' I am not afraid to dare it — for you. You have told me when 1 was first in your heart, and you are true,'

She waited as if to receive some answering assurance to her words, bat he only tightened his clasp upon her arm. She fancied that a cloud crossed his face 1 Yes,' she repeated, ' I know that you are trus *I put truth above tenderness; honor above love. With me to doubt would be to despise. At the first false ring I &hould detect the base metal and cast it from, me.' ' And you are quick to detect the false ricg — lo listen for it.' * Ah, you think me suspicious. . My father says I am I do Eot believe it. He says, too, that I require those I love to come up to the impossible ideals. Bo you think 1 am such an impracticable dreamer?' (to eb conthtcted.)

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