|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the Red House
AN AMEKIOAN STORY OF THEIL USG INiEREST.
Bt MARY E. BRTAN.
(Commenced in the Evening News of Sep tember 20 J CHAPTER LIV.
A 'bleak bitter day in December ; ihe sky leaden-dark overhead the earth white in its ahroud of snow It is the tentn anniversary of Kildee's wedding, and she is passing it travelling across the prairies of tbe North west, in a railway train whose engine
I plunges panting and laboring through the hcapeJ suow-drifts whili the engineer eyes I the lowering sky, and mutters to the fireman that more snow is close at hand, and that : he ' devil will be to pa7.s Inside the car, vv here' Kildee sit?, it is comfortable enough. The great stove midway in the car glows- red with heat ; Kildee, tired of watching the monotonous expanse of snow outsiJe, sings boi'tly to the little child she holds in her arms, and lets her thoughts go back to the pa%t. Ten ycp.-s since she became the bride of Max on the same starry December evening that her stately sister Honor gave her hand to Ira HeathclifL The years have brought changes. Governor Montcalm is dead.. Heathcliff aud Honor and their three lovely children occupy the ancestral home of the Montcalms Heathcliff is now governor of the stato, elected ior a second term to that office The Eed House i3 no longer. The only i spirits that hatm; it are two mischief-loving sprites who play tricks upon old Caleb as he sits liodding under the nv:gnoiias. The polden-tres-ed girl and the dark-haired boy are the children of David Holt and Laura. Hazard Hail and Lottie are still itinerant mimes. She is as charming and merry as era*, and believes as fully in the genius of her handsome husband. He has not yet developed into a Booth, but he is a fascinat ing actor, if not a finished artist. He is exceedingly popular, and young girls pro nounce him ' glorious, divine ' and write notes to bes hh autograph. He boasts of Jiia con questB sometimes, and teases his little wife until he makes the angry flash lighten through her tears ; then he desists and kisses the tears away ' I can't help their loving mo,' he saya, ' and 1 can't help encouraging it just a little ; but you ought to know I love you and you only, Lottie.' He is Hazard Hall still. The world says Kildee's marriage has bsen unfortunate Max has made neither money nor fame. He set up his studio in New York — a little gem of a studio — for Governor Mentcalm had bestowed & liberal cheque as his wedding-gift ; but Max had not the steady application necessary to suc ceed where genius is wanting. He had no genuine love ior his art ; no deeply glow ing aspirations to improve to keep pace with the progressive thought and methods of the day He had an easy-going sweet nature, a delicate taste in landscape painting and a repugnance to hard work. Ke was liked in society, caressed at his club, affectionate and lovable in his home. He was fond and proud of Kildee, and she devoted herself to making him happy. Was she happy her self ? Did he satisfy her heart ? Only one who know her best, who watched her most anxiously, knew that she was not a happy irife. She fulfilled her wifely duties con scientiously- She was genile and cheerful — sometimes ; but the wistful look in her lovely eyes had deepened almost painfully. !tt told the story of a heart alone, in spite of intimate companionship, a soul that had not :7ound ite supplement Kildee had her lather's brow and eyes and her mother's nature. For ail her delicate fineness there was a strong fibre in her that responded to the heroic. It was in her to understand and sympathise with prest deeds; yes, to suggest and inspire such deeds by her elevated, fervid, emotional power and her strong pnre imagination It was this sympathy with the heroic that made her admire Heathcliff She had not loved him so much as she had been moved by that commanding elevated chord in nis character which found an echo in her own nature. She was hardly seventeen wbea she married Mas. She knew she did not love him as she could love, but she was too young and untaught to feol the necessity that there should be perfect love between two beings whoso lives are to be united by the close bond of marria e She cared greatly for Max. She owed so much to him He had been so kind as a guardian, so devoted as a lover that ehe could nvt bear to hurt him by refusing to be his wife But she had net given her consent until after she knew she was Governor Mont calm's daughter. When he had pressed her to marry him in the little town where they had stopped with the sick St- Peter, Bhe had begged for titno to think it over, and berore the time allotted had gone by there came a letter from Lottie with the paper containing Nell Barnes's siory. Max read it aloud to her as soon as the candles could be lighted. Tn the midst of bis ioy for her, she saw his face clo d. He had suddenly remembered that there was now a wide gulf between them. He said with a look of one who has re' ceived a stab : ' Now you will never think of poor Max ' The girl's generous soul could not bear tbat look. » ?' How can you think bo of me?' she cried; and a moment later she had promised to be his wife. Having made tee promise, she abided by it She was firm under her father's repre sentations, and unshaken by the brilliant pro =pect that had been opened to her. She married him ? and he never knew that he did cot perfectly fill her heart. A more spirit ally sensitive nature might have per ceived the veil of uncon^eniality that separated their lives, but Max 'was not spiritually sensitive His was a eweet, sensnous, thailow nature, made to ripple pleasantly in the sunshine of easy fortune and social appreciation. She outgrew him. It was inevitable. Her nature was richer in possibilities for dereiopment When she went to New Ygrfc she Came in contact by reading, and, more rarely, by personal association, ?with strong minds, and she took deeper intellec tual and spiritual root. It -was natural this should seek to flower in expression. She had never been ready to reveal her deeper thoughts and feelings in speech. She was shy, of all her child-like frankness.. So the form of expression she choose was writing She began to write poems, at first lor her
own eye', aftervrards she confined her secret to a friend — a warm-hearted and large brained womau — connected with the New York presa,^. and through this friend's per suasions, the poems appeared in print, from time to time, under the pseudonym of Alfar Weir. The? were always snort — sonnets or lyrics, characterised by a delicate yet sinewy imagination, a chrvstallisation or' thought, a slow of passionately pure feeling which laid bold upon a small but intellectual and appreciative class of readers To some of these it became known that ebe was the author of the poems they admired, and so she made for herself a narrow but congenial circle of friends Into this circle Max often came with her in person, but did not truly belong to it. He had no affinity with it. Kildee's work and her associations satis fied ihe demands of her intellectual being, and her heart found an outlet in love for her child. It was a fragile little creature, with dark, asking eyea like its mother's From the first, tbe tenderest care had been required to foster its delicate lile. Kildee had given it that care. She was almost morbid in her devotion. She hung over the little one dav and night, until she became pale and worn, and seemed to be hourly giving a portion of her life to eke out the fragile existence of her child. Notwith standing this uutjring care, the little one faded. One day in April its life went out. The mother's grief though it was almost silent was passionately deep. With the droppins off of this frail flower her life had borne, than life seemed to have lost all its sweetness. The temptation was strong to let go the bare, blossomless bough and drop | into the grave besiae her child. Her friends rallied around her. One of them took her to hear a preacher, whose talk, it was said, had the Christlike power of giving comfort and strength She had heard of this preacher since she had been in New York. She had often wanted to hear him speak, for he was one she had known in years past. This eccentric speaker, bold writer and spiritual teacher, after the apos tolic pattern, was no other than Miles Carr leon. She had heard of him as strangely eloquent — with the eloquence of fervid zeal in his crusade against wrong, and of passion ate pity and love of men. She had heard of the self-denying life he led — the severe asceticism of his habits, his devoted labours in prisons and penitentiaries and hospital's, among the poor, the sicir, the sorrowing and sinful. In the cause of helping his fellow - beinga to a happier and higher physical and moral life, he spared neither personal effort nor money. Not only had lie given Aphrodite Island, with its costly buildings and improvements, as a home for orphans, but be had established and endowed other charties He had invested all his remain ing iortune judiciously, and he was spend ing all the interest and portions of the prin cipal in the work into which he had thrown his life. He was after the apostolic type. He sought neither fama nor money. He took no pay, he asked no favors, he coarted no popular applause, he belonged to no de nomination. He owed no allegiance to any church He fenced in his broad creed of faith and deeds by no bristling hedge of theological tenets. Therefore he could be independent. He could be bold for truth, and strong for trnth. And he was. He assailed ain that sat in high place3. He de nounced wrong that cloaked itself under specious pretences. He withered the masks of hypocrisy, the Eheep's clothing of human wolves and foxes, with his fiery eatire No Sc John, was he — rather a Paul of Tarsus. No Gabriel — rather a Michael with sword of fire. His voice of bold rebuke rang out asrainpt political crime ; against gilded social debasement ; against banded corporations — licensed robbers. The object of his denouncing writhed under his blows, shrunk at his unflinching exposure of their wrong-doing. He made enemies by the ecore. They decried him. in the press. They called him a fanatic — a lunatic. Ministers assailed him in the pulpi b as unorthodox and irregular. He heeded theia not. lie went on in his crusade against wrong Persecution only whetted his sword His trumpet rang out more de finatly for the charge And yet he was the soul of love, of pity, and tolerance. He had tender compassion for the weak and fallen, for he knew the strength of temptation. He had sounded the depths of sin and suffering. He was fitted to talk to criminals m prison and con vict camps, and his work was often there. He was fitted to comfort and encourage the Borrowing, tor he had drank of ihe bitter cup. It was to this man that Kildee's friend took her in the dark days that f illowed the death of her child . She had met him more than once since her coming to New. York. There was a look in his eyes that thrilled that chord in her which responded sympa thetically with the heroic. There was the look of one who had fought and had con quered. Looking back she recalled him as she had known him. She saw him in the light of his new developed character, and ehe felt that she had been right, when ehe told him that last night at Aphrodite, that he could be a power for good as he had been s. power for evil She bad uttered the words through a kind of1 inspired impulse. They had proved raophetic, (to bb cosnrnnKOc}