|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of the I|ed House
AN' AMERICAN STORY OF THKIL UNG INTEREST.
By Mart E. Bryan.
(Commenced in the Evening News of $ep temher 20.} CHAPTER XXXVIL
So Kilclee went alone to see her friends. Mrs- Dnck gathered her to her bread, motherly bosom ; the professor blessed her and repiced over her in his finest stagef ather manner, the boys earns about her— ^-hand-
some,, darkly-moustached fellows — Lottie fluttered around her, putting touches to her hair and ribbons and giving her little delighted hugs . - Presently she found herself seated in a basket-chair iu the middle of the character istically disordered room— '-the centre of a little circle of love and petricg and affectionate curiosity, answering a dozen questions, some of which were very trying to her ¥ot Max stood a little aloof, pre tending to mend the strings of Lottie's guitar, which had to be used in the after noon f-erformance and his sad bine eyes wex'e fixed often on lie? face, .the eye3 m ?which she had last mght read his' secret. She had never suspested it before; but then she had not loved, Love teaches us wisdom She felt a, pang that was like remorse vhen she saw the anxious look on that face she had always seen beaming, with happy good nature He joined but little in the conversation. He was a poor hand to dis semble and his look when Kiidee's marriage was spoken of wonld have betrayed him to
anyone. ' Wben is it to be, pet? It seems no secret thafc you are eoing to make this grand marriage ; von will not mind telling us when it will take piace,' Mrs, Duck had asked. Kildee hesitated and her pale face and troubled voice when she spoke were unlike those of a prospeetve bride. ' To morrow ' — she answered — ' so it Las been appointed ;'but™' * But what, dear child ?' 1 Oh, I don't fe.el that- it will ever happen It cu^ht not to — no, it oushfc never to be/ Mrs Duck looked at her in surprise, but Lottie apparently solved the doubt * She doesn't think ehe is good, enough to be a governor'3 wife— little timid goose. 'Now if it was me, there mi^ht be some reason in being oppressed by the weight of ' An honour unto which I was not born ;' but Kildea was always a lifcile prinee53 in disguise, ' Nothing she said or did Bat aioacked of something greater — ' than a strolling 1 i i tie play actress. She can wear the purple (figuratively ; purple ?wouldn't be becoming to her complexion as a matter of fact) right royally. Goodness, inst think of it ! a governor's bride. Whv,
? it would turn my head Yet, I don't know I if I wouldn't b3 happier as I am with my I art and my freedom. I'm a born vagabond, I yoj s=e — a wolf of the wilds of Bohemia 1 ? couldn't wear a tame dog collar though it B vrere get with diamonds.' ? As cbc spoire, and as they all prattled I ground her, and she heard once more the I merry laughter and the affectionate teasing I and the professional slang, Kildee felt a ? half longing to be back enje more with ? these old comrades in the vagabond, care ? free life she must put behind her to-morrow, H when she en'ered that new stately existence. ? I Max saw that wistful look in her eyes and H noted the hesitating way she had spoken of H her marriage, and he drew from them a wild H hope H ' 'What if she does not care for Mayor H Heathcliff,' lie said to himself ; ' if she only H promised to marry him because he was kind H to her, and she seemed to have no other H friend? What if she would be willing to H draw back now — even at this late hour ? H She is truth itself; if she has come to under H stand her own heart to-day she will not take H a vow on her lips she feels is not true. I H must see her alone. I must find out her H real feelings. If &ho does not shrink from H this marriage, as she seems to me to do, it H should net take place.' H He roused himself from hi9 reverie Kil. ^^1 r\aa wo a nninir TrTe ramp f-1ncr» tjf\ Tiot» q.tii?
I said low ?- I * May I see you to-night — an hour before I the performance ?' I His eyes were nioie pleading even than I his tonc3. Kildee could not resist them. I She felt thst tbe interview that he asked I would be painful to both and yet ehe said : I * I will see yon.' I No one observed the little by-play but I Mrs. Duck She understood it. With the I sympathetic instinct of her motherly heart I she had penetrated Max's secret. Lottie I was T-re-occnpied. Hazard had called and I she was happ 7. He stayed and accompanied I her to the theatre f jr the matinee play. I From a convenient loop-hole, they sur I Teyed the audience. I ' Who is the beautiful girl in whiie lace I and pale blue ?' asked Lottie, ' I saw her I last night.' ? I ' She is the daughter of General Mont I calm/ answered Hazard ; * the most beauti I ful woman I ever saw, and the proudest. I And yefc, like most women, she lets love I subdue her pride and conquer her pitiably,' I he added I There was so much bitterness in his tones I that Lottie was moved with surprise and I jealousy She timed and looked at him I questioningly His dark face was moody. I He had seen Honor Montcalm's eyes turn I again and again to the mayor's bor, which, I however, remained empty. He had watched I her last night, and, by more than one subtle I token, he had known how keenly she suffered I seeing HeathclifF seated beside the girl who, I as was no w. -well kaown, wonld shortly be I his wife. I The matinee was oyer,-ihe lovely October I afternoon wore towards evening A splendid I sucset kindled its fires and faued. Max I Eubin, standing on the sea-chore, watched I the crimson pale into cold ashen purple, I while he waited impatiently for the hour I of his visit- to come.. It came. He hurried I to the Eed House, tut Kildee had received a I EuhimGns which gave a new turn to her life I The interview took place, but under cir I enmstances far different irom what either I had imagine*.
I CHAPTER XXXVIII. I ISeveri o'clock. KilBse heard the vibrafc I ing strokes of. the cit? clock as she walked I back and forth in the darkly-shaded, I niRssive-piJlared remndfih of the Bed I Mouse ??.-' ?? ?' ? ? ?'? -? ?? ; ' '?:' ' -'? '-
The evening had set in stormily The sun at setting dropped from behind a lid of heavy clouds, blood-red blase, and dis ap peared The cloudy- lid sb ut dark}y d own, now and then a tongue of red fire leaped from its blackness, A wisd sprang up and increased in violence, but no rain fell. Kildee was restless. Did she feel in her prophetic consciousness that some crisis of her fate was at hand ? To-morrow was h9r marriage-day ? The wedding-dress had been sent home only an hour a^o. ' &.) to your room and see whab you wiil find there,' Miss Paust had said to her, gliding up suddenly behind her, sis she sat at a window lost in a reverie which, was not
all sweet Sbe went. The window bhnds were closed, shutting out the gloomy twi light. Two wax candles lit the room mellowly; and on the pale blue silk coverlid of the bed lay the bridal dress, white and delicate and dreamlike as the spray mist of a mountain waterfall She stood and looked at it in silence. She tried to picture herself enveloped in that fleecy lace and satin standing beside Ira Heathcliff in the dim grand, old church where his mother had worshipped and where her dead body had lain, standing beside him as his bride, hearing him swear in the presence of the white-robed priest and
listening assemoiv 1:0 10 ve ana cnensn ner while life shauld last. She could not make the picture seem real Some inner voice seemed whispering low : ' It will never be. Fate will interfere as once before.' She shut the white dream out of her sight behind the doors of her armoire,. and quitted the wax-lighted room for the dark, cool verandah The gloom of the tree shadows and ivy-vines near, of the clouds and gather ing tempest afar, were far more congenial to her mood. As the clock struck seven she suddenly remembered tbe impending inter view with Max — remembered it with a thrill of pain- She felt sure he had wrongly in terpreted her hesitation and lack of happy responsiveness whenever her approaching marriage with Keatheliff bad been spoken of. He had drawn the inference that the marriage was repugnant to her ; that only her unfriended condition and her gratitude for HeathclirE's kindness had brought about the engagement. He had founded hopes for himself on this belief He was coming to night to uree them — Max, to whom she owed so much — her guardian, her brother, her ' little papa,' as she had called him when a child. It would be hard to give him pain : she loved him so dearly, Biue eyed, merry, truthful, tender Max. She might have cared for him as he wished had ehe remained with the troupe, had there never occurred that eventful break inner life But now — she wished he had not come asain. She wished that she had not seen that he loved her. The revelation had come to her suddenly and with a shock of pain She must undeceive him as soon and as tenderly as she could. And then ehe thought, ' I rniaht not have been so ready to do this last night. When I saw Max and Lottie while yet these crtel words I heard at Madame Jean's were piercing my heart, I was tempted to go to them and ask them to take me back under their care, and give me some of the old work to do ; but after what happened in the ride home I could not do it. 1 had not conrage to put aside this new sweet happiness, though 1 fear, oh ! I fear it is based on a delusion. Bnt he was so kind and tender last night,. aud he is so true. Surely he would not let ine deceive myself with the thought that he cares for me when he does not. And if he loved me I would not mind the talk of other people He would not mind it. He ia strong enough to be what he wills in spite of their misjudg ing gossip. I eannDt — ' She stopped short in her promenade in the dark verandah. A footstep crunched the gravel of the walk close by. She had not heard the peculiar ring of the gate-bell or Caleb's shuffling tread eroing to answer. Only Heathclif£ had a duplicate key to the gate. Then it was he ; she waa glad. His voice would dispel the doubts that had again begun to gather. But Mas, he had asked to see her alone She came to meet her visitor , He recog nised the slight- shape, dimly outlined as it ?was. ' Kildee,' he said, * I am glad to see you at once You and 1 are called to see a dying woman to-ni^ht, at Factory Bow- She writes that she has something important to communicate — something that concerns you — your early life and parentage. This is the substance of the two or three scrawled lines dictated by her and taken down by Mrs. Betts. The note came half an hour ago, but I was out. Get your hat and wrap and come at once ; we may ba too late.' Kiidee's hands trembled eo ehe could hardly fasten the dark wrap she threw around her. Her early life, her parents, was she about to hear the mystery of her birth solved at last ? She remembered how strangely this woman had looked at her when she (Kildee) first came to nurse her at Fac tory Bow ; how she had questioned her about her childhood, and had seemed singu larly interested and agitated when she had learned the peculiar circumstances of Kii dee's early life * I am ready,' she said, coming out on the verandah, after hardly a minute's absence. Heathcliff took her hand and they walked rapidly to the gate, which he opened and then locked behind- them. His carriage waited outside ; and as they entered it, a cab was driven to the gate, aud Max leaped out. The light of the carriage lamps shone on Kiidee's face, and he uttered an exclama tion of surprise and reproach. She gave him her hand from the carriage window. 1 I am called to see a friend who is very ill — dying,' she said. She had no time to say more ; the h.orses sprang,. forward und the carriage was Jiorne swiftly 'away. Max stood a second biting his lip in dis appointment, Then he -jumped inio the cab. ? Eollow -the carriagOj?: he said to the driver * I wish to see where they are going'. He determined not to be balked of his purpose to eee her to-night It was bis one poor chance to- succeed in breaking off a, marriage he believed was .repugnant to ?her. With, difficulty the -driver of the cab kept the carriage in sighs.. Its ''twinkling lamps were the only guide to its progress after it had turned into tne narrow, badly-lighted Mills Street on. which the factory and the factory tenement buildings were situated. Before one of these houses , the carriage sfopped, and its occupants alighted. The ground floor of the building 'was used as a tiiop where pi o visions and other merchandise were sold to the mill hands- A Ions: flight of steps opening into the street led to the second story, whieh.waB occupied by factory people. Max watched KiideeandHoathclifi
ascend the stairs. He noted the place well before ho ordered the cab ip be driveu to the theatre. He had an importa,nt part in the openinc overture- He would play this, bnt when it was done he would return to Factory Row. The troupe to which he was attached would leave the city at one o'clock to-night; to-morrow Kildee would belong to another, lie must watch his opportunity to speak to night. (to be continued.)