|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the Ued House
AS AMESICAN STORY CXF THEIL LING INTEREST.
By Mart E. Bryan.
(Oommenced in the Evening News of 5ep teniber 20 J CHAPTER XXYill.
The tot August day was on the -wane. The low sun looked through bars of crimson, shading into purple. A sea-breeze was abroad, coolin? heated brows and btirring the plumes of the palm and pine.
Cool as a fresh opened flower looked Ku dee in her lilac rnusiin. standing under the bine and white awning in front of the shop. Before her were frails and flowers and baskets of grape3 arranged with vine leaves ; behind her (in the shop window) a back ground of broad- leaved aquatic plants and rich-flowerel gladioli. St. Peter, now well combed and cared for, sat on a low stool, smilingf in his half-happy half-melancholy fashion as he watched the nimble finger and sharp teeth of Zach ex plore the winding labyrinth of a walnut Madame Jean's frnifc and flower shop had thriven since Kildee became the presiding genius. She and her proteges proved draw ing cards indeed They harmonised with the Italian loot of the little shop. The figs and citrons, the little golden melons and red lilies, the graceful, dark, eyed child- woman, and the gray-haired musician with his refined brow, and large, limpid, vacant eyes, his violin and his miniature monkey, and his confiding dependence on Kildee ; these made up a picture 'which struck even the least imaginative Carleon saw that picture this afternoon for the first time. ' He had been out on the race-track, riding Mahmoud f uriouely The horse's black hide was wfcite-flecked with foam as the rider threw himself from the saddle in front of a public stable, and flung the bridle to a groom, with the orders to let the animal cool gradually. Two of his old associates dashed up in a light buggy almost at the same instant ; several otner young 1 bloods ' of the city were lounging in front or' the handsome stable, drawn there by the most fascination there is for men, in horses. They looked hard at Carleon when he rode up, and they bowed to him in an eager way, but did not venture to approach him. His manner was not encouraging. His moods of late had kept his satellites at a distance. They had never presumed to be familiar ; something about him forbade this. They were accustomed to occasional brusqne and haughty treatmeDt, to absent-minded in difference, to receiving favours seasoned with sarcasms, and to having their attempts at intimacy cut short by cool disdain ; but these were flitting moods His present gloomy reserve seemed something that would, sot pass. His haughtiness became cold repulsion ; his slightly stinging sarcasm became savago irony. Just now, when he was the iheme of conversation, the object to public curiosity, he bafHed all the attempts of bis former associates to find out the mean ing of his sudden curve. For he had astounded the public by donating to the city the whole of Aphrodito Island .-with its beautiful grounds and grand mansion as a Home for Orphan GKrls. What was his motive ? Reponers interviewed him with, out result, ministers approached him, hoping for a convert, and came away stung by hie polished, half-sneering courtesy. The city fathers tendered thanks, and he cut short their speeches with uncivil brusqueness One night when he had lounged into his club-room, through very restlessness, one of his disciples — a. dashing young fellow who had claimed to be Carleon's pst, piqued at his present indifference, began to ' chaff ' him in a way none of the others had ventured upon. ' Don't jou see, boys ; it's one of the two things Either Carleon is in love with some demure little Methodist, and anxious to in gratiate himself with her papa, the preacher, or he is about to embark in politics, and that donation was his grand coup.' Carleon v/as looking at a picture lately hung He had his back to the speaker and his group of listeners. He wheeled and looked at him. * Do I remind you of a diplomat carrying popular favor, or a lover seeking to please ?' The fierce scorn in his eye and. voice, the laughty, haif-savage curl of his moustached lip made the young man change colour and fall back a little as the other faced him ' Of course I was only joking,' he said, trying to laugh. ' Nobody can accuse you of wanting to please, particularly these latter 'days. But we can't help puzzling over your late conundrum What the Beelzebub was your object in doing that thing — the Aphro dite business, you know ?' ' The same that made Alcibiades of Athens cnt off the tail of his dog — to give the fools of the city something to talk about,' said Carieon, and left the club-room. 'Ah, Carleon,' said Vaughn, as the former was walking away from the stable. 1 You are the man I was looking for. I want to see you about leasingthe Moran buildings. 1 heard you had refused to let Black renew his lease : is it so ?' ' It is.' . !Ani* was **» as ne sa.x s- because he wanted it for a wholesale liquor store ?' ' It doesn't matter what it was because of. Do you want to lease the building?' ' Why, yes, but 1 should only want the first and second floor ; but Parks— you know him — well, but lets talk as we walk along.' He hooked his arm in Carleon's and they Walked on together. They soon came to an end of the lease business, and taked of in different matters as they sauntered on in the stream of other pedestrians. ' 'Here, turn the corner,' Vaughn said. 'I want to show you a bit of ' Wiihelm Meister '—so it seems. Look here, in fiont of Madame Jean's fririt shop See that majestic, melancholy old musician, wilh the flowing silver beard; see the girl by him with the great eyes, and sweet, wistful mouth, the clear, pale brow, and curling hair. Mignon and her unknown father ? eh ? If only the old chap had a harp in Btead of the .fiddle.' Carleon slouched bis hat over his eyes to hide his agitation, It was the first time he had eeen Kildee Bince she had left Aphrodite Island. . ' Yes, fruit and flowers. Lovely, isn't Bhe ? — ont of the way kind of beauty ; I knew you'd, appreciate it. Yon onght to thank me for showing her to you. How ever, 'tis not; so disinterested in me after all, for I've squandered all my odd dimes and wasted my smiles and prettiest flatteries an that quarter without producing the least effect. There's no commonplace coyness
about the girl ; she's free bs a child in her ways, but there's sometliing about her I can't penetrate. But you- t— ' * Nobody but a villwin would iry to penetrate that atmosphere' of purity to do her an evil,' Carleon inter rupted Vaughn stared in blank amazement. * Thank you,' he Baid pi lesently, forcing a laugh ' I-supposeyou mt *an to be personal. Well, we will leave the pretty fruit girl alone. Shall we stop at Sishumiel's and get a beer ?' ' No, I am going to bu y some grapes of the girl ; she has probably- seen us looking at her,' They -went up to the :fruit-«tand under the cocl white and blue awning Carleon cursed himself for a coward when he felt fiercely his heart throbbed as ho stood before the little figure in lilac niusli n and he felt how the glance of her dark soft-iyes upon his face. But she was quite caln 3, though she had change.i colour when she sr iw hinu She put up the grapes and cotu&ted out the change for the bill he gave hei ?. 1 These are lar^e juicy pears — give me two of them,' he said ; and while si \e was putting them up he dropped a ten-dol lar gold piece into Zach's little paw. ' Ten c tents !' he said. ' I have given the money to ;your little pet here. Ton can bring the pe:j,rs, Vaughn ' He walked on, leaving hifl i riend to f ollow. Kildee'o quick eye had detocted the ruse, and she had as quickly checkmated it* * Hillo !' said Vaughn, presently, as he cut one of the Californian pears. ' Does our pretty Pomona sell the golden fruit of Hesperides ? See here.'1 He held up the ten-dollar gold piece, Kildee had pressed it through the crisp rind of one of the pears. ' Witchcraft — isn't it, eh ?' 'Looks like it,' answered Carleon, moodily, vexed with himself at the clustoy attempt to help her, and fearful she would mistake his motive. He could not resist the craving to see her, and next day found him near Mme Jean's. He intended to go by without pausing, save for ono look, but as he was pausing, a voice called his name, and turning, he saw Kildee looking at him with outstretched hand. ' Let me thank you,' she said. * For what ? You have mo cause to thank me.' * Oh ! I have, All orphan girls owe you heartfelt thanks and blessings.' She had that day heard oi: his gift of Aphrodite Island as a Home for Orphan Girls. ' Thank yourself,' he said. ? But for you it would not have been. You would not accept anything from me for yourself ; you would not even let your marmoset take that little present yesterday.' She smiled deprecatingly ; then she looked up archly. ' You owe me a ?quarter yisfc/ she said. His own features relaxed into a smile. He paid the money, and she said : ' And now, will you take a little gift ? Thia was Monsieur Jean's reward of merit for making good coffee this morning.' She lifted a beautiful Gloire rose from a glass filled with water. ' I give it to you,' she said, laying it in Carleon's hand. He took it, his agitated eyes fixing them selves upon her. * When I die the rose will be buried with me,' he said. His voice was husky with intense feebng She dropped her eyes and her color faded : the smile left her lips 'Pool that I am/ he thought as he walked away. ' I startled her with my insane passion. I will not let her look on me with tolerance. I must trample this mad feeling out of my heart. I could do it if there were seme strong, exciting movement to throw myself into. But where shall I find that ? I have tried everything.' That same evening Heathcliff said to M. Jean : ' 1 am tronbled about iny factory people. So many of them are down with the dengue fever that is ravaging the city. Whole families have been stricken with it at the Factory Tenement Row, and there is so much suffering it makes my heartache. There is great scarcity of nurses. Many are dying for want of careful watching. I have just left a sad case — a woman who was an industrious, skilful weaver ; but she is a crabbed, fierce creature, and by no means a favorite in the factory. She is ill, and I can get no one to nurse her for love or money. She will die if she does not get proper attention ' ' Let me nurse her, Mr. Heathcliff,' said Kildee, who had listened intently. ' You ? you are not strong enough. Besides, you would catch the fever. No, no, little bird ' ' I am quite strong, and I have nursed the eick often and often And I will not take the fever, for I have had it once in Mexico, and learned there how to nurse it. Madame Jean can spare me part J}f the day and at night. I am a capital xiand to sit UP-' She did not rest until she had carried her point. That night, she wa s installed in a rcom in Factory Row as nurse to ' cross Nell Barnes.' (to be continthd.)