|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
jffjstery of the Ked House
I AS ASSEBICAB' STOEY OF THEIL LING INTEREST.
Bx Maet E. Bryan.
(Commenced in the 'Evening Neics of Sep temher 20 J CHAPTElt XVIII —Continued.
He evaded the -question. * You do dream impractibly sometimes, do you not ? For instance, thst dream about the white band and arm reaching out snd tearing o5? your bridal veil at the altar. Confess that it ^ves this same dream that made you say l£ perhaps ' just now when you spote of our marriage. Yes, and it is this that influ ences vou not to want anyone invited to
uitDes3 it.' 'No, it was not the dream. _ ' I am not quite eo superstitious. It was— I'ii let you call it; a mere whim. I can't analyse if. Jbr one thing, there is no need of invita tions. Our friends will be at the church that night to see the marriage of Cousin Jionde and Doctor Carlton. Let the double wedding come as a, surprise. Then I did not want M adame Grrundy gossiping about inv marriage beforehand.' ' Saying that the sole daughter of the prom! house of Montcalm is about to stoop her bright head and wed the plain maker of cloth, with no coat-of arms but a steam engine — ' ' Rather, Madame Grundy 'will declare that Honor Montcalm has played her cards cleverly and. 'won a rlrh husband to prop the decaying fortunes of her house ' .A ^ocd tbing for her'1 Madame Trill say, with a shrt;^, ' but for him ? He will hn\e his hands full.' ' ' Fortunately he likes to have his hands fulV said the stately lover, smiling down inio her eyes, while beheld both her delicate hands between his broad palms Her proud ©yea grew misty and her lip quivered as she returned his look. It was plain to ha seen that it vras not for his money this beautiful woman loved her rich suitor One who watched her felt this with a pang of keen pain. The intensity of a look drew her eyes to the window which she sat facing It opened on tbs piazza. A dark fnce appeared between the dropped* lace curtains ; a hand beckoned to her impera tively She hesitated before she obeyed the [ Bumznons. She would not do it covertly. | * Ercuse me a moment/ she said. * Mr. Hall beckoned me at the window. He has been with papa in the library. Papa wants toe, I suppose.' She parted the enrtains of the French window and stepped out on the piazza.' Young Hail had withdrawn further from tie window, acd stood leaning against a pillar' ' Don't look at me ho Tvitheringly ; I have not been eavescboppinsr,' he said, as she ceme near. ' I have just come from yoar father's room. I was going out when I easght a glimpse of yoiir i'sce iighied up with such love, such trust for him — that man who is not worthy of you. 1 could not |jesisS the sudden impulse to warn ycu [against him once more. 'lie is not true. [He visits the Red House, and it is not as [business agent of a deformed old woman [There is anolher — a secret inmate oi! the [Bed House — a young and beautiful woman lit 5s she Mayor Heathcliff goes to see.' I Be turned oS and ran down the steps into liha rainy, dimly lighted night. She stood I listening mechanically to his footsteps on I the Eodden walk, wondering it he were mad, [or it it was bitter malice that hsd made him [traduce the man whom fortune had placed [above hiaa. She went back into thedrawing [loom, but the perfect charm of the houi [was fatally flawed. She dreaded to be [ questioned, and was in no mood to talk or [ listen, bo she went to the piano and played [all Heatheiiff'B favorite pieces, winding up [with something full of minor ebordB and [sobbing cadences that chimed well with the [ dreary ni^ht. [ When at length she stopped and leaned [lack wearily, Heathcliff said : I ? * I looked for you ; why were you not there?' [ ' 1 had to be 'busy ; besides, I do not care [for parties, as you know. I go nowhere but [ as business calls ra 3, only here.' [ ' And to the Bed Bouse — ' [ * Oh, that is one of the places where busi- [ness calls me.' [ ' Are you very sura r'— smiling playfully [ out with keen earnestness in her tones. ' Is I there no one at the Red House but old Miss paust?' I ' Ifoi; another white sonl I never met [anyone there in my life but Miss Faust and [iier two black servants She admit3 no I Visitor.' [ The assertion was emphatic enough ; yet [Honor was not quite eatisfied. Her ear | detected a slight unsteadiness in his tones,' [ her eyea perceived an unmistakable change [in his countenance — a slight twitching of [the muscles about the mouth. Was he [ Speaking falsely ? [ She tried to drive away the doubt as [ absurd and disloyal, butit would not 'down ' [at her bidding. It haunted her after he [ was gone. [ ' 1 forsee it ?will torture me inio seeing [young Hali again and demanding tim. to | prove his assertion — to let me see with my [ own eye3 To humble myself is humiliat [ ing ; bnt I siust do it. There can be no I Je3t for me until I do.' I One while ehe half determined to tell I Heathcliff what young Hali had said, but I ier promise had been given to Hazard not I to speak of it. Then the consequences I might be eerious. It was plain that both I *nen disliked each other already She knew iMeathcliffs stem nature, Hazard'* fiery I recklessness. A quarrel, a fight, a scandal Ifrould probably result should she tell her I lover of the warning she had received. Nor I Could she bring herself to speak of it to her I f a^er* Setting aside her promise not to do I fhis, Bhe conld.Dot bear to break up the |£troilS attachment existing between her [lather anajiis young protege The general [flookel lost i£ young Hall did not drop in. [0nce a day for half axTtionr to diaeuss political Ifoewa, and gossip in. his brilliant, sharp, | Bynica] way. SbVdetermiEed io,|5ralt ; all [might be explained. Hazard was' perhaps [ bonest in his warning; only he was, yes, he [ aurely must be deceived And yet that [ :hange of countenance, that unsteadiness of I tone when the mayor had answered her' [feuestiott concerning the inmates of the Bed [Piouse— what did they mean ? 1 chaiSSTxix. I When Kildee came down to the besch li&ext morning, in pursuance of her plan to Ifcare Goff w-?r ter fo^tipffic* ^e&njirt II . ???'?? .??;?' ?''''?'??'?;??:??'?.??'?''*?? ? '?
Carleon seated in the boat, idly dipping the oars into the smooth, water. * I have set Gro££to work on the shubbery/ he said. * Will you accept me as your gon dolier? This bine -water and bluest sky suggests Venice/ As he Btood np to arrange the buff and ?white awning he looked down at Kildee and said, persu:.sively : ' It is early '. suppose we row around the island before agoing across to shore. Ton. would like to fee 'the limit of your little empire.' Kildee felt no disposition to object. The morning was fine,, and her spirits rebounded from their previous depression. Carlecn was merry and kind. He said not a word to dissuade her from her idea of being inde pendent, but before the row around the island was over he had artfnlly induced her to intrust her plans to him to forward- He had promised to find out what employment she could obtain in Wallport;, and to see about board for her mother and herself. ' I know you find it lo iley here/ he said, ' and I understand your wish to be indepen dent : it is a natural and right feeling. Still, I am selfish enough to wish you to stay as long as I remain. I know this house is not home-like or neat, with all its fine ap pointments. How could it be when it scarcely has even a servant's care? it is almost impossible to £ et native servants to stay in such a lonely place. A hou^e, to be home-like, must have the frequent touches of a woman's hand.' Kildee mentally resolved that she would attack the disorder of the mansion next day, and would help Qoff with the shrubbery and flower- teds. She had not been per mitted to do anything about the place before. The work would be a boon to her. The boat had moved very lazily round the little island Carleon stopped often to point out some aspect of water or sky or sand-bar, some wave-skimming bird or clump or shrubbery op bit of rock-work en the shore. By the time they retarned to the landing and the little boat-houee it was noon, and the sun was hot overhead. ' We will go home and get some luncheon,' Carleon said, * and I wdl go to Wallport this afternoon and see what opening I can lied for you.' Theyiad luncheen together in the cool little breakfast-room, where roses nodded at the window. The freshly -gathered grapes, the red. pulped figs and cream, the butter and foam-like bread, were enjoyed by Kildee with unalloyed zest. Afterward she took her first lesson on the harp. Then Carleon induced her to read to him. He lay on the divan, listening to her fresh voice and watching the lon^, brown lashes drooping a;ainst her cheeks, and the round arms escaping from the loose muslin sleeves. The trip to Wallport wa3 postponed until another day. The next morning Kildee, in a cool print £ow;i and white apron, busied herself for several hours in dusting furniture, arrang ing books and pictures, and making the rooms more tidy. In tbe afternoon ehe helped Goff, who was at work irimniing the vines and hedges. Carleon came out and lent the help ot his white, plump hands. As he was tying up a long refractory spray of Lady Banksia his hand touched Kildee's, his fingers closed over hers, and he Eaid : * L'noagh wcr'i for to-day We will go now and look at the ' Illnstraied Dante ' I told you of. I found it thi3 inornina1 The pictures are worth studying. I will bring it out to the summer-hcase ' In the shade of the large leaves, just stirred by the sea-breath, Kildee listened, for the first time, to the deep organ music of Dante's verse. Carleon would have read her the story of Francesca Di Eimini, but as he began it he glanced up and saw her sitting near him — her little i'ace so sweetly intent, so thought ful yet child-like, under the shady hat, .one hand lyinj; across her wbiie-aproned lap with a cape jasmiue bud iu the slim fingers ; when he saw her thus he stopped short Francesea's story would be too discordant to that picture. Ke shut the book ' We will go and feed the pigeons,' he said The summer days went by. Carieon professed to have found a situation' for Kiidee in Wallport — a p3ac3 in ihe icailin^ department of a paper. But it would not be vacant for a week yet. Meantime, she found household work' enough to interest her, and she had the most fascinating com panionship in the world. Carleon was at his best. He was acting en masque — his real nature wholly put aside. The new role amused him And he wa3 thoroughly interested in Kildee ; more than interested, he became charmed. He tried to throw off the feeling with his usual careless disdain, but it had fastened upon him Fate meant through it to work her revenge upon tbe man who had lau«hed at all deep earnest feelings Sever before had this man been thrown into daily domestic association with a nature pnre and sweet, yet bright and intelligent, with a singular, quaintly charming miiture of childish frankness and womanly dignity? He did not find her as wax to his hands either. She did not absorb his views when they were contrary to her clear intuition . She swept away his sentimental cobweb sophisms with a single breath of. her clear common sense. She looked up to him with undisguised admira tion ; sometimes he fancied she was under the glamor he boasted he could throw over any woman he tried to win ; a sun-bright glance, a free laugh, a frank, fearless utterance would prove to him that she was unfettered. v He became impatient ; his undisciplined nature chafed against the restraint he was obliged to exercise OTer it. This elusive creature, half Kelpie, half domestic fairy, held him aloof by a strong yet frail-seeming spell ,that he grew savagely anxious to break. It became hard to wear the mask. ' It will drop some day,' he said to him. self And it did. He had dreaded to have the * mask slip,* because he felt that the girl wonld hate him if ehe caught but a glimpse of bis real self. He had abandoned any thought cf winning her dishonorably. She was to be his wife, and he was trying to gain her love, Never before had he been other than self-confident where winning a woman was concerned ; but now he became feverishly anxious, almost timid.; He trusted to keep her blinded to his true character until she was firmly bound to- hint' She was so young, the had had so little experience ; it was not likely she would suspect him. of-being other than tie kind noble being ie seemed. He did,not take into account theswift, lightning like instincts given to women for their guide and protfictSon— instifictB that flash con
viction npon the mind in a single instant,; independent of reason. At the cloudy close' o£ a day the two were together in the drawing-room Car leon htid just finished giving Kildee her lesson on the harp, and he sat idly twaining the strings, with his eyes fixed os Kildee, who was sitting near the window watching the cloudy daylight fade over the unquiet sea. Presently he struck some soft chords and began to sing an impassioned love song. Kildee, listening, was struck by the wistful melody. It bore her thoughts away beyond the words or music, to the friends she had loved and had lost by a fate, it seemed, more cruel than death. A wave of wild yearning went over her ; she bowed her face on her hands. In an instant Carieon was beside cer. Now (he believed) was his hour. He put his arm around her and tried to draw her to htm. She shrank from him firmly, yet with gentleness, and he desisted., wonder ing at himself. But he took sway one of the hands that cohered her face and put it to her cheek. 'Tears on these little fingers/ he said tenderly. ? Dearest Kildee, why are you sad ?' He thought he understood the cause of her emotion — that it was the awakening of love for himself. She was ' troubled, 'Em- barrassed ; she tried to draw her hand away. ' I was thinking of my friends who used to lore me,' she paid. *I was thinking - pf Max—' r ?* Max ?* He was savagely disappointed ; hid fingers dosed fiercely upon her hand ; he drew he^' to him with passionate force. ' Tou taust forget Max,\he said. € You are mine — mine V She looked np at him — a quick startled glance. The mask had fallen. As he looked down at her, she read the true nature of the man. With suddea strength she wrenched herself free from him and ran from the room She reached her own chamber and stood clinging to the chimney-piece, her heart throbbing like a fawn that hears the dog3. * What must I do ?' was the confused query that came with the impulse lo quit the place at once. Carleon songht Mrs. Gonzalis, and ex plained : ' I want to say thiB to you : — Yon lie on your lounge in a semi-dream from day to day and negleec my interests .' ' What have I done V she asked, haughtily ' Simply rofching ; but youwere to do something in-return for my bounty. ITcu were to influence that girl to regard me favorably, and she — bates me. 2fcw I am determined to marry her. I would marry her to-night if I could, but she has a will of steel in spite of her child-like softness. Marry me she shall, however. Joel Gibson is a magistrate ; you are her mother, so called ; GofF and Sophie are good enough witnesses. To-morrow I go for my license. I will marry her in this house within three days. Go and prepare her to receive me as a busband, Teli her the worldly advantages of the step, the necessity of it. Tell her I that you have no means to live upon, and that ehe can do nothing that will keep' you both from starvation. Tell her I will love her as I never before loyed a woman. I will plead my own causa to her afterward. Exert yourself in my behalf ; you shall reap the benefit if 1 succeed 1 am anxious to have her marry me willingly; but if not by good will, then by forca.' His iace grew hard as marble as he uttered the last words. The caadle shook in the woman's hand. She said not a word ; she felt that she mnst obej-. Tbe chief point was gained. He had said positively that he would marry Kildee, and she knew from, his eye and the rine in his voice that he spoke the iratL. She had never seen him so terribly in earnest CHAPTES XX. Madame Gonzalis went straight to Kildee's room. She found her sitting by the table, composed and tearless, though profoundly sad. She was thinking what she should do when sbe landed in the strange city of Wallport next morning. She determined to Jeare Aphrodite Island as earlr as she could get away. ' Kildee— Kildee, look at. me ' She started anpl fae^d her rseudo mother The look in her eye3 made Madame Gonzalis involuntarily withdraw the hand Bhs had placed on the girl's shoulder and fail back a step. - * What do tou want with me ?' asked Kildee coldly.'- ' Are you really so unreasonable as to wish to leave the cnlv roof that offers us shelter ?' ' I would rather shelter myself under tbe naked sky. 1 leave this house ia.the morn* ing, never to enter it again, ' And leave me— your mother — your invalid mother ?' * If yon will go with me, I will try to find shelter for us both, and 1 will work to support you. If you refuse to go, I must leave you.' ' Toa quite forget that you arc not your own mistress. You are not legally old enough to discard parental authority.' c Nevertheless, i must take my own destiny in my own hands, 3 cannot trust you — my mother though you may be. Oh, that- 1 had a true mother — a good mother — as Lottie has.9 The passionate cry made Madame Gonzalis stand silent and pale for a moment. Then she came closer to Kildee. She seated her self and drew the girl close to her. * Listen to me, my child,' she said * Tou are making yourself miserable, when you should be happy. You misunderstood Mr. Carleon just now. He was on the point of offering yon a destiny brighter than even X could have hoped for you. Kildee, you can remain here in. this beautiful home as its mistress — as the loved and honored wife of Mies' Carleon.' * I would not be his wife for a eityf ul of homes.' Kildee's quiet, tones were firm as steel. Mra. Oonzatis felt at once that her decision was final, yet she tried to combat it. ' You are mad/ she said ; ' yon znust.be. Mr. Carleon is rich, accomplished, a gentle man by birth and breeding'. And he lores jou fondly j he will do everything to please «nd gratify you , You will ba the envy of every woman in WaHport ' VAnd my own scorn. Don't say any more, please. jNothing could indues me to marry Mr. Carleon. What I saw in his face, and what he said— gust a gleam, jest a word or two, was enough to tell me what he is I will not marry him if my life depends on my doing it.* ', ' Mrs. Gonealis started up in sudden fury. Shesaw.tue hopelessness of -€arleoa?s cause.
She eaw herself turned from the luxnry and indolence of Aphrodite Mansion. * Obstinate, ungrateful girl !' she cried. * You shall repent this I will show you that you cannot set aside my authority so easily. You wish to elscape from my charge that you may hunt up those strolling players, who are glad to be rid of you, and throw yourself in the arms of that young vagabond you are in love with. But we will see whose wiil is the stronger.' She quitted the room without another look at the pale, miserable, yet sternly-set face of the girl. (TO BE COKTHTCTED.)