|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the Bed House
I AN AMERICAN STORY OF THKILr I LING INTEREST.
I Bt Maky E. Brtan.
(Convaienced in the Evening News of Sep tember 20 J
CHAPTER XXII Continued.
Joel Gibson let fall the book be held and stared at his patron in dumb amazement. A hysterical cry 'from Mrs. Gonzalis broke the silence. ' What the dingnation does this mean ?' demanded Gibson, forgetting his patriarchal dignitv
' It means that this foul business is at an end. For this minute, at least, I've pot the upper hand of the devil that possesses me, and I'll make use of the mastery. lake your spell off the girl.' ' But,' remonstrated tribson in an under tone, with a warning1 glance at the witnesses, ? It's all working right, the girl will answer as 1 will her too, and her mother, and the witnesses here — ' ' N ot a word. I have my foot on the fiend new, and if you tempt me, you hypocritical ccr, I'll strike you to the earth. Take your gpell off the girl thi8 instant.' , tHbson advanced hurriedly, and made a lew passes with a trembling hand ' 1 can V he whimpered. ' I'm all un nerved. I've lost control over myself.' Carleon stepped to a side tabls, caught up a decanter of brandy, poured dh± a glassful, and brought it to his frightened factotum, ' Drink it down, and get control of your self quick, or 'twill be the worse for you,' he said. Gibson gulped down the fiery liquor, and walked to the mantel-piece, followed by Gar leon's blood-shot eyes After a mo ment cr two he turned TOund and again ap j proached Kildee. This time his efforts to I remove the mesmeric inflnence proved I successful. Her face changed from its I death-like pallor, her lids closed, then flashed I wide open- There was consciousness in her eyes I Her quick, startled look took in the scene ; I the lighted room, the two servants in their I holiday clothe?, Joel Gibson behind the I table with its open book, and Carleon stand I ing at her side. Her dim, dreamy, con I sciousness of what had been happening I received its confirmation. Horror over I spread her face ; she turned to Gibson. I ' Am I married to that man ?' ehe cried, I pointing to'Carleon. I The anguish voice pierced Carleon to the I heart. He did not wait for the magistrate I to repjy. I ' No\ he. said, ' yon are not married to me The sacrifice was not permitted. Your own innocence saved you Tou are free — free to leave this*piace when you will.' ' I will go now,' she said. ' Here is the key to the gate. Gofr, you ?will row Miss Gonzaiis to Wallport and 'get her a carriage. Bring down her luggage, you and Sophie, and fciike it to the boat.' Then, as the servant's obeyed, he turned | to Gibson and Mrs. Gonzalis ': ' You will leave the room,' he said- ' I I Jrish to speak to her alone before she goe3.; ' Stay,' c?ied Kildee, detaining Mrs. Gonzaiis. ' Mr. Carleon can have . nothing to say to me tbat you must not hear.' 'But I have/ he exclaimed roughly. ' Go,' addressing Mrs Gonzalis with an imperative gesture. ' I will humble myself: in the sight of but one woman on earth.' Then turning to Kilciee. ' Yon need not fear me,' he said, ' I would not touch you for tbe whole of Aphrodite island ' He cloBeci the door upon Mme. G-onzalis. I He walked the length of the room twice I and then stopped in front of Kildee. He I -was lividly pale ; bis arms were pressed I upon his chest as though to keep in some I BtruL'glmg emotion I ' Ci;ild,J he said, ' I have done yon a I foul wroDg. I tore' you away from your I friends by a villiaaOus scheme ; I brought I yen to this polluted place ! I pat you in I daily association with a monster — a 'moral I Caliban— myself By a Irici I would have I bound your pure Jife fast to mine, only I - something, soms power I cannot; understand, I interposed. Af lev al£ there must be a God I ~-ior creatures like you. I have stamped ft I nightmare memory upon your voun-» soul I that you can nerer shake off. I *have° it is I *itely, pui a lasting stain upon, your fair I name, for but to set foot on this island is to rhave the sleuth-bocnd of scandal at your j heels for ever thereafter. I deserve the I hangman's rope ; I deserve to have yon I send a bullet through my heart, aud I beg I you will do it Take this revolver and kill I me as you would a mad dog that had bitten I See looked at tbe weapon he thrust into I Her hand and laid ifc on the table before I her. She was pale as shs listened to his I vild words, but siie looked calmly, sadly, I into his burning eyes. I * You are not fit to die,' sheeaid. I ' Am I fit to live ? Can I-endnre io live I after this ? 1 swear to you I never realized I what I -was nntil I saw that look of horror I aid loathing in your eyes. I never knew a I good woman intimately ia my life before. I 1 have never kno»n a mother or a sister. I The uncle who raised me — brilliant, gifted I being thai he was— haJ every drop of I the milk of humanity in ..his nature turned I 5:*° 8all D7 disappointment and wrong. I He ]]£-i |jeen rich ; he lost his fortune, Bis I friends forsook him ; the wife he idolized I deserted hiu^ henceforth he became a bitter I hater of his kind— a modern Timdn. He I recovered Ms fortune ; he us~ed the money I for his own gratification ; be adopted job I chiefly, I think, to perpetuate through me I m revenge on mankind ' Make them I serve your interests or your pleasure, bui I oeepisfe them, ior ttwy are either false or I *eak'- — this was his teaching. He had £or I faith in the hondr of man or the virtue of I ttoman. Such was any training ; I have I followed it out. Money bought me I pleasures, flatteries. I cared for no more. ? io till up the passing hour was all my aim. I 1 have felt weariness, satiety, disgust, but I never, I swear such bitter self-humiliation I as when I saw what an object of horror I ? ^as in your eyes— in the eyes of the one I creature1 I have loved, the fair, sweet being, I l.would give my life to make love me. I I ne7er felt htivr black I was -until 1 came in ? contact with your ^whiteness Now I I fealize-^eferythin^.' There is a bell bnrn I % here in my bfeasiihat all the waters of I fonder ocean cannot quench. Lire after ? this? STever; it in dimply impossible. I ? J^ii! make a will tbie night after yon have I «ft me, and leave fill my money io yon, to ? bo with as von t)iea»e. iben * Ini «f cold- H ' ? . ? fi: ~M. '.'& jrViil..... ,t' ViL fa. r-1..i .'^''.J^-A * S
lead rids the world of one who never did ft any good : and not a tear will be shed over his dead body. The parasites who have fed upon me have cared only for my bounty j in their hearts they have despised me.' c I do not want your money/ Kildee said, ' and it is cowardly to talk of taking your life. JJive and retrieve the past. Live to wipe out the evil you have done with ?good. You say you have used your money on selfish gratification, use it now for a noble puroose — use it to make others better and happier.' * It is too late.' * It is not too late God is still above us j eviland suffering are still upon the earth ; strength and talent are still yours. Use your gold and your good gifts to put down sin and to alleviate pain and poverty.' * Girl don't preach to me : I despise cant. I don't acknowledge your God. I hold that piety is either ignorance or hypocrisy, the repentance is weakness. I am not repentant. I don't love goodness, I love you. I don't hate sin ; I simply loathe myself because you loathe me — because I saw myself in the mirror of your eyes.1 ' It is God's work/ said the girl. He held up the mirror. It is repentance and you do not know it. Ton will turn from your old self with disgust ; you will aspire to a better self ' He broke into a short, hard laugh. 1 Do you know yon are talking that stuff to a man with no more capacity in him for good than a burned out volcano to grow roses. Why, this very instant as I look at you with that tearful light shining in your sweet eye3 and that young bosom heaving with emotion, I am tempted to call back: my accomplice and make him finish his work — bind you to me by force as my wife — my slave ' * But you will not do it,' she said, meet ing his look with fearles3, upraised eyes * Xou will not do it. I am no longer afraid of you . Your better angel has spoken to you ; you have stopped short ; you have taken a step in the better way, yon will not turn back. No, I am not afraid of you now.' How sweet and steady her voice was ; what a light was in her eyes, shining through her tears ! The strong man was moved ; his lips trembled, his fierce, hot eyes grew soft. With a self-scornful gesture he threw back his head : * I'll not whine/ he said. ' I did not ask this interview for the purpose of playing on your sympathies — exciting your pity I had another purpose in view. It was to tell you that I desire to do all in my power to make amends for the wrong I have done you All the gold in the world would not mend that wrong, but let it go as far as it will. You are going away — -out into a world that is strange to you. Yon do not know how cold and hard it is ; you will need money, and money, thank fate, I can give you.' He stepped to the inlaid escritoire, un locked a drawer and took from it a large roll of bills and a long purse filled with gold , * This is for the present only/ he said, as he laid the money on her knee. . She looked at it, and then at him, and softly shook her head. She gathered up the purse and -the bills, took them to the escritoire, and laid them in their former place * I will not take them/ she said. ' I will not touch a dollar of your money, Mr. Car leon.' ' ' Eilci6e, are you in earnest ?' / ' I am indeed. I will take no money from yon.' He almost staggered to the mantel-piece. He clung to it and looked at her with agonized eyes ' Child/ he said huskily ? * for God's sake be merciful; Don't refuse me this one drop of consolation. Don't let me have to think of yoa as going out into tbe world psnniless, f riendless, because of me I can offer you no reparation but money ; don't reject it Yon will indeed drive me to self-destruction.' Kildee grew very pale. ' Oh, Mr, Carleon/ she cried, ' I would take the raoney if I could do it and not feel it was wrong I cannot take it ' ' Then how can I ever make amends to you ?' ' Yoa can do as I hedged you just now. You can let ms think that I have helped to change you. You can pnt your old life nnder foot and reach up to a nobler one — a lite active and useful. Then yotir breast will no longer be filled with a burning pain. The burned out volcano wili grow' roses of hope a-p'd peace.' in her earnestness of entreaty she had stretched out her hands to him ; he, caught them and crushed them against his breast. ' Will you love me if I do 'this ?* he exclaimed 5 bat he saw the quick change in her face ; ii recalled him tti himself. He dropped her hands, and bent his head in amazement. ' Forgive me/ he said, paia and humilia tion in his tones ; * I meant, will you despise me less ?' - ' Ah 1 do not talk of my love or hate. I am only an ignorant, simple girl. Yon have talents, and education, and money ; these, pnt to a noble use, would win the esteem of the' world, the love and gratitude of thousands of human beings.' Before he could speak the door was thrown/open; Mrs. Gonzalis entered hurriedly and said : *, There are three men at the gate waiting to be admitted. What most be done ?* * fell GoS to let them in.' * Is it best to do this ?' she remonstrated. '* QpS ? says ?; they ieem. like, persons in authority. Perhaps they have come to — * * Kb matter what they have come for ; let Jihem in at once/ he said, -turning id GoS, who appeared at the door. * Would to Heavea I had never come to iftn& house/ ebe said hysterically. 'I feel a presentiment that fate will overtake ine here/ Kildee went tip to her * If yiiu are my mother,* shS'said, looking earnestly into her face, * I want yon to go with, me and live with me wherfeve'r I may find a place for iis to live, I — ' * She is not your mother/ -interrupted Carleon. * That was another of my sins. I had her claim you and bring yon here/ * But she is the person who had 'charge of me when I was a child) and left me — I remember her well/ * Yet she jb not your mother.. Your father is— * ' Hush 1' cried Madame Gonzalis, sharply^ * I iold yoa that wild story to deceive yon. Yon have no proof of it I deny it.9 * Her face is proof enough She isiiie image of — ' , . 'Will van not hs wl*ntf cried ifeH
woman. ' Do you not understand ?' She made a swift seep toward him and seized his arm with her slender fingers. ' Do you want to destroy me ?' she said, under her breath. ' If he is told that she is 1 . his child do you not know that he will de- J mand proofs ? He will question me, search into my history ; part of it is known to him already, only he thinks me dead. He would at once suspect ; he would never re3t nntil all was known, and I was brought to- — ' * What ?' .. ' ' ' The gallows/ she said in an intense whisper ' You suspected ifc before.' His look of horror told that his suspicion hitherto had not been sfcrong. Goff threw open the door. * Mayor Heathcliff, Sheriff Tatem, Deputy-sheriff Lynn/ he annouueed. Madame Gonzahs uttered a stifled scream and darted to the door. On the threshold she came face to face with Ira Heathcliff. Sudden recognition flashed into his eyes. * Zulimee ! You here V he said. She did not answer him. She made one deprecating gesture and fled past him. She ran to her room and threw herself on her bed, bnrying her face in her hands ' That he should ses me here !' she said with a spasmodic sob. She rose and began hurriedly to collect her most valuable possessions and pack them in a portmanteau with a few articles of clothing. * I must get away from this place ; away from this city/ she muttered to herself. ' What evil spirit possessed me to come here ?' She caught up the portmanteau, themgh it seemed to heavy for her slender arm, and left the room, the mansion, making her way to the boat-house. There she unfastened a small, light boat, and got into it. Taking the oars in her own hands she pushed off from the island, looking back fearfully, and breathing more fully when she saw no one. Handling the oars with a skill acquired in her early life in Mexico, she was soon at a distance from tbe island It was her object to reach the city in lime to take the first night train goina; out in any direction, it little mattered where. CHAPTER XXIV, Carleon advanced to receive his visitors with stately courtesy. * This is an unexpected honor, gentlemen/ he said, with tbat mocking shade in his voice and in the expression of his handsome mouth. ' It is not a message of pleasure or of friendship, Mr. Carleon/ returned the mayor. * I presumed as much. I am waiting to hear you announce the business you have with ine.' £ It is this, Mr. Caiieon ; I have received an intimation that a young girl was forcibly detained in this house— confined in one of the rooms Is this true ?' * It is quite true. This is the young ladv. She has been detained here against her will. She has been forcibly shut up in one of the rooms on the upper floor.' ' And you confess to this lawless and disgracefnl act ?' * 1 will give you further particulars. The youcg giri is as pure as she is lovely. I wanted to niarry her. I induced a woman she thought to be her mother to bring her here. The girl had ;nerer ssen ice, fcnesr nothing; of my. character 1 came : here a few days ago I tried to win her love and consent to marrj me. I failed, aud not to be baulked of my purpose, I resorted to a stratagem- I procured a marriage license and a magistrate. Half an hour ago Miss Gonzalis was on the point of marrying me whiie unconscious, through, the influence of mesmerism. That she did not, is due to — circumstances which need not be detailed/ Outwardly Carleon was cooly indifferent, almost flippant. Ira HeathciifE eyed him sternly. * You surely know/ he said, . ' that you have laid yourself open to arrest and punishment at the hands of the law for this outrage.' * I think it probable/ ' It is so probable that it will soon be. an aceomplfshed fact. I came provided with a warrant for your arrest. You have long.de fied the law, and escaped justice through chicanery and bribes/ * It 15 a weak law that can be tricked ; it is a poor law that can be bribed. But yon will not find the matter, of arrest so easy, Mayor 'Heathcliff. No man and no three men shall take me alive. I will defend my freedom with my life ' As he spoke he took the revolver— a French hair-trigger — from the table and stepped backward a pace until his back was against the wall 'It will be better . for you to submit peaceably. When thii young lady prose cutes yon for — ' , * I will not prosecute Mr. Carleon/ Kildee said. * And I hope yon will not ar rest him; he repents for what he has done; he wishes to make amends ; he is going to assist me to get away from here. It w£s Of his own. will that the marriage ceremony was stopped, through his own better feel ings.' , * He does not look very repentant/ com mented HeathciifE eyeing the half-mocking/ half -defiant face of the master of Arhrodite ' But he is repentant/ Kildee said. * t haveseea is to his heart. I believe he will never act so ?wickedly again I belie\ e there wilt be a change in his life. Do not hinafer it, Mayor Heathcilff. Let him so free ; 1 will not prosecute him.' Heathcliff gave her a searching look. * You are willing to eta* irere— to bo his 1 wife?' * tDh, no, no ! J ask yon to take toe fnih yon io the city. Z was going alone when you came/ * :