Chapter 108114993

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108114993
Full Date1888-10-03
Page Number7
Corrections0
Word Count2451
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
Trove TitleMystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest
article text

Mystery of the Red House

£M' AMEKICAN STORY OF THEIL LING INTEREST.

By Mart E. Beyan.

(Commenced in tjie Evening News of Sep~ iember 20 J CHAPTER XIII

- * Don't tell me I am not the ideal Lady Mac bethj' Lottie said, comiui out from tbe little improvised dressing-room into the epaCe before tlie dropped curtain and sweep ing a stags curtsey before Hazard. She {was in all the stateliuess of trailing purple Velvet (cotton back) and a tiara of (Irish} (diamonds.

' I have 'been trying to drill my face into a granddame expression ; havB I succeeded? Do 1 impress you as the Lady of Macbeth Castle, coming forth to congratulate her lord on his accession of honors ?' She looked a deal more like a charming couutess of the Louis XIV period, Hazard thought, but he answered : ' So strongly do you impress me as the Stately lady in question that I must imagine myself Macbeth, and say with him, My deueatllove, Malcolm comes here to-day. He bowed his lips to Lottie's hand with Bis finest grace ' Well done,' cried Papa Duck, coming out of the other dressing-box as Macbeth m plumes and a general's somewhat faded uni form ' I taught you that bow, you scamp. You ought to be with us now instead of following -the dry business of scribbling You've got genius — histrionic genius, sir. Lottie, you remember what a Hamlet he made ? His face was a whole funeral pro fession of melancholy !' 1 I remember his Eorreo,' Lottie answered, Stifling a sigh. He had played it to her Juliet once at an amateur performance, and it was an ever-fresh memory with her. ' We've got a noble house — I've just had a peep at it through a slit in the curtain,7 exclaimed Frank ' But I shall Btall at those two long speeches of mine unless Kildee prompts. I can always understand when she prompts ' ' My dear Hall,' said the proressor, 'you had better go to the front and get a seat while you can. The seats are fast being taken. We shall have a fine house There goes the music ; St. Peter starts off vigor ously ' ' I must say good-bye, as I shall have to leave here at ten I hope to see you at Wallport soon,' Hazard said, extending his tjand to the professor, who shook it heartily, Baying: ' Our craft is too little for seen big waters ; however, we may come early in. the fall.' ' I shall certainly look for you/ Hazard said, holding Lottie's fingers in a lingering clasp. Max was on the other side of the curtain in his musician's seat just below the stage ; and Sfc. Peter was beside him The audience forgot to be impatient for the curtain to rise, in wondering at Signor Petruchio's music, and his strange appearance— his pallid face, his long white hair uid beard, his big, pale, solemn eyes staring blankly forward as his bow moved over the strings with that wonderf iily ' light, firm, keen touch which drew forth the inmost secrets of melody. Max was accompanying him on the violin celio. '--* The fine house* did not seem to have put him in spirits as it had the pro fessor. He looked pale and anxious. He nodded to Hazard with a faint smile, and that aatute youth saw that something was wrong * He is jealous because Kildee is to play with that handsode Prank,' thought Hazard ; ' or he is doubtful abont her getting through all right. She looked such a mere child, dancing before that inspired idiot as she beat his eags, that I can't fancy her In the role of a court lady.' B .t Hazard's conjecture only grazed the mark, Max's anxiety did refer to Kildee, but not in these ways. He had anxiously scanned the laces of all who entered the hall. He beaan to breathe freer as he saw Dearly all the seats appropriated ; and he gave St. Peter the 3igaalto begin by playing a few notes of the * Soavenirs de Bellini ' He played on quite eheerf nlly, till snddenly he started and made a false note Vv hile he had been attending to his instrument two Vacant seats which had caught his eye pre viously had been occupied ; the one by a handsome man with full blonde beard, tne other by the dark woman whom lie had seen on the piazza of the hotel, and had believed to be Kildee's mother. Max felt the blood forsake his face as she fixed her large black eyes upon him. Did sV,e recognize him? 'Was it indeed she? She was changed, thin, hollow-eyed, but picturesque still She no longer wore her hair in masses of jetty braids ; it was put back with a plainness to correspond with her dress — of black silk with little trimming.

?But the shapely head, the finely turned neck, were t a ings that artist Max re membered. Then, who could forget her eyes ? They had a wilderness in them nowy however, which had not belonged to them then ' Tet it is, it must be she,' he said to himself. * Can that be her hnsband with her ? Has she married again ? If she has, she may iiofc care to claim Kildee. But no, Bhe cannot help wanting her. When she I sees how sweet, how /bright she is she will be sure to. claim her My hope is that she Trill not recognise her ' Kildee did not appear in the first part of the performance— the scenes from c Macbeth' — save in the -banquet scene; where her part was merely dumb show ; but when the guests rose from the table in amazemenfmt Macbeth's * ?' strange behavior, ' Kildee's willowy form — leaned forward, with a wide,, surprised eyes and lips apart— -made a con spicuous figure in the tableau, Max-watched the pair who': occupied tHe 'isolated seats. He saw the man lean forward and fix his opera glass upon Kildee The woman., did the same, but she dropped her glass in a second and drew her shoulders together Tvith what seemed a shudder. Her companion bent down and spoke to her in an animated way. She responded. The curtain '?'. fell, and a conversation ensned between these , two. which seemed agitating io ibe woman Max would have given much to know what it was about. Had he been able to overhear it, hisrsuspicions would have been confirmed * Ths girl is really i6\^ly,' Carleon said. 1 1 thojijjhi so '..in thatirief glimpse of her I had at the -spring yesterday. It isnotoften nowadays that I care to .have a second look at a woman's face^ but this one had some thing - o.ew:; m' :'M: ^ : ,It ; ;:wbb her ;; laugh that

caught my attention first- Such a fresh, merry little peal. She had given a cup oi mineral water to that queer, daft-looking fiddler, and he had spilled it on his shirt bosom, and looked at her helplessly She laughed to reassure Mm, and then she wiped the water off with a little handkerchief she took from her neck, and patted his shoulder as much as to say, 'you're all right.' Her face struck me as something new — the wide, brown, woodland eyes, the fresh rose of a mouth, and the sweet dignity of the brow and chin — made a novel combination I had determined to see her again, even before you told me who she was But are you sure, Zulimee, that this is the same girl — your daughter — so alleged ?' 4 Sure ? Did you see his eyes, the strong Iikenes3 to him ? It is fearful !' She shuddered again. He did not notice it, or at least paid no attention to it * A likeness may be accidental,' he said ' It is not in this case Sne is with the people who adopted her 1 knew them ; they occupied rooms in the tenement 1 lived in when I had the child with me That fair young man took care of her when — ' ' When yon left her to starve — tender mother!' Carleon said, with his sarcastic smile. ' I did not mean that she should starve. I meant to return to her- I told you that I was miserable and desperate enough not to care much what became of myself even, but I meant to creep back to the garret and the child when I had sold books enuu *h to buy us food for another day. I had walked all the forenoon under the hot July sun ; my head throbbed so I turned towards home —or that apology for home — when a sudden vertigo seized me I fell down insensible, and was carried to the hospital afterwards — but I have told you the story before. Believe ifc or not, as you please ' He was not listening to her attentively. He seemed in a brown study. Presently he said : ' You will claim her now — will you not ?' * Claim her ?' She gave vent to a little bitter laugh. * I conid not.be paid enough to make me stav where I could see her every day — with that face. Besides, what could I do with her, pray ? I cannot feed myself.' ? Make her feed you.' ? With her pitiful earnings as a. soubrette in a small company of strolling players ? Absurd ! I have fallen low — low My life is a record of miserable mistakes and sins and crime '—this last word in a husky voice — ' but I repeat, I would starve to death before I would do harm to that girl, who has his look and his blood in her veins ' ' Tet you stole her out of revenge on him !' ' I did. It was a foolish and insane act. The temptation to do it seized me like the compelling hand of a devil. I did not wait to know certainly that the child was his It was a year before I found out the mistake — too late then to restore her to her parents ; they had gone to reside ia a foreign land 1 was neglectful, cruel sometimes to the little one. God forgive me, she had such a look of him. 1 will not do her any further hurt She is innocent now; those are good people that have her in charge 1 trust she may marry that young man who cared £or her so kindly — boy though he was. He has a good face ' ' A soft-lockin* nincompoop,' Carleon said ebmemptuoasly, 'lowering at Max, who had just stopped playing, for the curtain was rising upon the closing piece, ' The Knight's Temptation.' The opening scene showed a room ia a palace, whose mistress, Kildee, in white silk and roses, had just avowed to her astonished relatives that she would not marry the withered grandee chosen for her, that she would marry a man of her own choice, let his station be what it might. She declared her intention of goin^ out in the disguise of a peasant-girl, that she might find borne one who would love her for herself alone. In the next scene she has carried her purpose into execution She appears in the pretty, simple peasant dress, dancing with other peasants at the fair. Returning across tbe fields, she is encountered by the inevitable villain, and is rescued by the inevitable knight He offers her the homage of his heart: She loves him, but wishes to put his affection to the test, and so sends him on a mission into the Black Forest and contrives that he is beset, overpowered, and left bound ; is found by her attendants and her. self, now in her own garb as countess and further disguised by differently colored hair, and conveyed to her palace, where he received distinguished attentions and is entertained with music and feasted with wines and fruits. The countess —so grand in her rich dress and jewels that he does not suspect that she is the- lovely mistress of his heart — pats forth every art to win him for herself. She is by tarns tender and proud, wild and melting. -She comes ont presently in a ravishing gossamer dress that reveals her lovely limbs, and dances before him— 1first merrily, scattering flowers and Derfnmes, .then dreamily, voluptuously,' winding and unwinding about her a silken, silvery scarf as the music winds and unwinds its alluring 'melodies Again, 'she reclines on a divan at his feet— in soft, flowing- draperies, and sings for him, as she touches a little lute, eweet, impassioned songs that . takes his senses prisoner. Then she offers him her [ love, her wealth, herself. His heart seems bursting with the struggles against tempta tion ; but he . resists. His answer is : * Beautiful enchantress, my heart is not mt own You are strangely like my love, buy you are not she. I could love you if I had. not given myself to her 'But I am hers only.' Then the countess laughs, tears -off the golden' hair, and holds out her lovely arms saving. * I »m Annetta. The test u *nded

I am yours ^ The little piece *in three short acts was not much as a drama, but ifc was made charming by the f resb. grace and naturalness of Kildee's acting — her sweet voice, her exquisite dancing. Carleon followed her movements with gloating eyes. When the curtain fell on the last act but one, he turned to Mrs. Gonzalis and said : * You must claim that girl, and take her to Aphrodite Island/ ' Never,' was her answer. 'As you please; but listen to me Upon your doing as 1 desire depends your future living, I will not give you another cent else ; and how will you live ?' * I can die. I can stop this fever of living by my own hand.' ' But you won't do that, my frtend ; you are too cowardly ; too afraid of the bugbears your Mexican priests and grannies taught you to believe lie in wait for the sinful soul beyond the shadow of death. No, you won't kill yourself ; you will live on — but how ?' (TO BE CONTINtTBD.)