|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Sly stery of the RedHouse
AJJ AMEKIOAN STORY OP TH&IL- LIJSTG INTEREST,
Bt Mart E. Bryan.
(Commenced in the Evening News of Sep tember 20 J CHAPTER XXI.
The wharf .at Wallport in tlae hot after neon sun is not a very inviting place. Sloops and schooners, a few large ships, aiid a number of steam vessels are anchored in the harbour. Near the landing a steamer I is discharging freight, another getting ready I to ' back cut ' Rousabouts in red shirts I are darting to and fro like swarming bees. Boxes, halea, and barrels litter the wharf ; peanut vendors and faotpie men cry their
wares And through the shouting, the puffing, the cursing, and the noisy laughter trickle the melancholy cotes of a violin playing the funeral march in the seventeenth movement. The performer is totally unconscious of the incongruity between his music and his sErroandings — unconscious of the jeers of the ragged boys that dance aroonri him and watch for an opportunity to seize by its tail the marmoset, Zach, that sometimes shyly peeps from the bosom of his grey woollen shirt. It is St Peter, Kildee's protege, the daft 1 orchestra ' of the Ducciole Company When the troupe got ready to leave Rock Spring,' after the sorrowful parting with Kiidee, they missed St. Peter Inquiries brought to ligbt the fact that he bad followed Kildee, had climbed on tte plat form of the train that had bore her &vra,y. and had been allowed a seat in the baggage car. Arrived at Wallport, he hunted up Kildee with dog-like instinct of devotion, and was making his way to her 3ide, when she entered a carrigae and was driven away. He ran after her keeping the carriage in sight, and reached the wharf in time to see her seated with Mme. G-onzalis in a boat which a tail, blonde, bearded man was pushing from the shore He strained his eyes aftsr the boat until it disappeared in the gathering twilight, and then sat down on the sand and played the funeral march with tears rolling down his blank, bewildered t looiiug face. ; He too.* up his abode on the wharf. He slept at nigbt on a cotton bale ; the boat hands and wharf boys gave him stale pea nuts and apples and. sometimes bread and cheese in return for hi3 music. When the I »all, yellow-haired Buss came from the I island for the marketing St Peter would I follow him. and on his return to the wharf, where he had iefi his boat locked to the pier, the poor creature would beseech GoiE I by signs and inarticulate entreaties to take I him in ths boat. After being repulsed I several times he lost heart, and would only I watch the Russian's departure with wistful I looks. He made his way to the wharf every I day, though now he was partly lodged and I fed at the Charity Home. Mayor Eeath I cliff had taken him there- in his carriage one I day: when, faint ^rith tha beat and want of I food, he had dropped, like a limp bnndJe, I across r, cotton bale, just as» the mayor was I stepping from his carriage to meet some I arriving friends. I Dreamily as he played on this sultry [ afternoon, the player kept a watchful, wist I fal eye upon the island boat, as it lay Eoftly I rocking on the gentle sivell near the water's I edge I A storm was coming np (the same storm I which Heathciift' and Miss Montcalm were I watching from her window). Presently I Goff came, hurriedly striding down to the j landing, carrying his heavy basket. He did not see St. Peter, who got ap and followed him, a crowd of boys at his heels. G-off unfastened his boat, threw the chain and padlock into it with a clang, put his basket in place, and seating; himself with his back to the shorey gathered up the oars with a quick movement and an apprehensive look at the rising clouds. He did not see St. Peter step in stealthily after him and take his seat in the stern of the boat, just [ as the little craft was pushed off. I The boys on the shore set up a chorus of ! Btionts and laughter. Goft thought they j were jeering at him because he was foreign, and he would not condescend to turn his head He eat bolt upright and bent his strength to the oars ' He was several hundred yards from the Bliore before he discovered that he was I carryini a passenger He turned npon the j saint with a wrathful imprecation, but the I dull eyes met his in child-like appeal I For half a minnte he hesitated whether I to carry St Peter back to the mainland, j and by bo doing probably get caught in the j gale, or whether to brave his master's wrath I by taung the man to the island. He had I receired strict orders from CarleOn to taae I no one to Aphrodite, and to let no one come I inside the gates, and GofE obeyed orders I fcith the unquestioning fidelity of a foreign I servant, and one whd, as a conscript, had I lad a taste of military discipline. I But another look at the threatening I clouds decided him to keep on. Carleon I ttouid never know. Ho would put the I crazy fiddler off npon the island but would I take care tie should not get inside the gate. I With another growl he turned to his oais, I and did not speak again until he had run I the boats nose upon the sandy beach of the [island I Then as St. Peter got out and prepared to Hollow him, he shook his fist at him I threateningly commanding him to s&y I where he was. St. Peter same to a stand I still with a vacuous smile into the frowning I &ce of the Russian. Goff proceeded on his I w&y, but when he reached the gate there I was the daft fiddler pattering Cose behind I am. I . &e tttfafed about 'and strode tip to the I intruder with wrathful gestures. Ap Iparently, these Had the effect of cowing I their object, for he sat down on the. ground I *nd dropped- his head upon his arms, which I tabelri the beloved fiddle in their embrace I Gbff looked at him with hesitating pity for I a secondj and then proceeded to unlock the I l?&t iron gate and push it ajar to admit I «m and his 1% wicker basket. I Hardly had ho got inside when he felt I Something shoot past him, and turning saw I St. Peter running up the walk. He started I after him, but the fugitive darted out into I m fehtibbery and* began dodging and I doubling aboat so actively as to baffle his I clumsy pursuer. I 1'he rain now bggan to fall* and Gd5 I determined to carry his bundles and baskets I ^to the houefe, then return to hunt up St. ? «ter.- ?' .'.''?'..'.?'.''?'? ';'-':'.'\: ?'?;?'. '*.,''? I But ih*i tvM0M&* imiumhtat.to *?
found. Tired and hungry, Goff went around to the little peak-roofed cot amons; the trees which was tenanted by him and his wife. The rain was now pouring, and the air had yrovra chill. A. tittle fire of pine xvooi was crackling merrily on tbe hearth, and beside it was St Peter, plaving on his fiddle, and GcfE's wife listening with delight, 'while a pot of smoking cofiee, and plates of sliced brown bread and beef on tlie table added to the inviting character of the picture. ' What's the sense of turning him out in the storm,' said the wife, ' poor brainless one like him ? His music makes me feel good It takes me back to the old land. Let 8 give him a bite and a Bhelter to-night, and in the morning early you can carry him ashore, and the master will be none the wiser.' Goff had a weakness for the fiddle and a deference for his wife's judgment, so the daft musician was allowed to stay. He rose at daybreak next morning and made his way to the house. All was silent, and he wandered around the building until he came to the great sycamore before the window of the room in which Kildee waa confined On the grass lay some fruit the. girl had thrown out the day before, unable to eat it St. Peter looked up a pear tree to regale his pet upon. While Zach munched his breakfast, his master took a seat at the foot of the sycamore with his back to the house and began to play. The notes were soft and slow, but Kildee, wakeful and unhappy, heard the familiar air. A wild hope leaped into her heart. The music sounded like St Peter's. Could it be fce ? 'Were her friends near ? She sprang from bed and ran to the window She eoald see no one. Yes, there wasZacb, sitting on his haunches chewing his pear with zest. ' St. Peter, St. Peter/ she called in eager but cautious tones. He started up from the ivy-mufSed base of the tree, turned his face to the bouse and looked around, then up. He saw her; the precious tiddle slipped unheeded to the ground, and the poor creature, uttering the half-articulate cry — between a laugh and a sob, by. which he expressed emotion, stretched out his arms to Kildee* She too held her arms to him ; then she shook her bead and expressed by signs that she was a prisoner. * They have shut me up hert ; I cannot get away. Tell them to come and free me,' she said, but he stared at her bewilderedly. It was plain that be did not comprehend Then Bhe tried to ask after her former friends. Mr. Duck, Lottie, Max — were they here, but she could not tell if he meant to reply that they wero not here, or whether the gesture was merely a token of non-com, prehension. ' Tet ther must be in Wallpori or St. Peter would not be here. They may be ?looking for me. How will I let them know ?* She thought a moment, then an aspiration seized ber. She caught up a peach from the table and held it out of the window. ' Zach, Zach,' sbe called. The marmoset had recognized her before and had scampered with deligbfc when she spoke to him As he caught sight of the red-and-yellow peach, he ,flung away the core of the pear and began to clamber up the ivied wall of the building. He climbed rapidly ; and in a little whlie he was in reach of her arm, and she seized the furry creature, drew him inside, and hugged him in her delight. He returned her caress for he bad loved her next to 'his znastar ; but presently he held out his tiny paw for the peach. While he devoured it, Kildee car ried out her idea. Sbe had no scrap of paner in her room. Her little writing-desk, her books, pens and pencils had all been taken out the night before or in the morn ing while she had slept so heavily. But she had found a morsel of pencil in the grate, and with this she proceeded to write on the smooth, polished surface of a clean cuff, one of the pair she had laid out to put on that night she expected to make her escape from the island : ? To thk Hatob of Wira.i£o»T,-— I pray yon to come to my atft. I am a girl of innocent life, forcibly confined ima looked room on Aphrodite Island. Come and free me, and I will thank yon on my knees. ' ElLDEI.' She did not know who the mayor of Wallport was, but she was sure there must be eome such official who zn:ght have power to protect her. She knew no one to apply to. She bad seen Hazard Hall but a few minutes at Sock Springs, and had not understood even that he lived at Wallport. She fastened the cuff securely around the marmoset's neck while he munched his peach Suddenly he dropped it and erew fidgety He had heard his master's whistle and understood the summons. Kildee grave him a parting squeeze and put him out of the window- She watched him anxiously as he scrambled down, and drew a breath of relief when she saw him leap into St Peter's arms, for she had seen ©off approaching through the trees. He came ap to St. Peter and laid his arm roughly oh his shoulder. * Come along,' he said gruffly. * You git away quick ; you not want you head broke Te master be up soon.' St, Peter tried to resist, but the Russian's stern wa/ of speaking appealed to bis habit of obedience, and he suffered himself to be pushed along, hugging his fiddle and with Zach safe in his usual refuge — the bosom of tbe saint's flannel shirt. Shortly afterward Kiidee heard the sound oi oars ; Goff was taking St. Peter back to the inacin shore. A deserted, lonely feeling overcame the girl for a moment,- as she listened Co* the monotonous rhythm of the oars- Then hope revived. Heir message was safe around Zach's neck. If Max and her other Mends Were not in 'Wallport, still there was ft probability that someone would see the cuff around the marmoset's ueok, have the curioaity_to examine it* and take her message to the mayor. ' God grant it !' prayed the girl, worn out with anxiety, confinement, and solitude. No one but Sophie had entered the room since it was first locked upon her* and Sophie had refuged to open her lips in answer to any question. The fitfAfc time the. door opened — just widely enough to admit her-^. Kildee had quickly pushed her aside and flung herself into the opening, only to be caught in the iron grip of Goff,. who stood guard at the dcor, and thrust her back into thferodm Both the Russian and his wife belieted kildee to be a wayward, disobedient girl, who had once before ran away from her mother, and was bent on doing so again ..V:.. -. -*© SI o6H*iff8»a