|Chapter Number||LI. (Continued.)|
|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
Mystery of tke Bed House
ITS A&EKICAN STORY- OF THEIL LlNG INTEREST. By 'Matty E. Bryav
(Commenced in tjie Evening News of Sep -*- iejriber 20J CHAPTEB I/I. (Continued.)
* And sne was your favorite child. The csrae had brought her to the train to say good-ore to you Ton -were going as far as New York -with your brother, who was on Jiis 'way back to Europe He paid you a hurried Tisit — shortened because you learned through your spies that a woman was hnnt in^ him. In New York a summons came to you by telegraph ? your child was drc\rned, yonr wife prostrated with grief.
The body was not found. iou took your wife to Europe by advice of her physicians.* 'What doyou mean? 'Why do you bring up these details ?' _ . ' To make you feel -what I shall tell you is true I arrived in.Wonolla one minute before the tram x-n which, you and your brother had takea passage left the station I did not see you ; you -were already in the ear. I saw your brother standing on the steps of the car in the act of giving hack to the narse a beautifnl child he had .just kissed . Before I could get to him the train moved away. I had heard he was in America, and I had tracked him here. I ?was hunting him to make him tell me what he had .done with my child. I did nofcfenow that you also were in Wbnolla — so far from home; I resolved to follow Captain Monfc calm to New York. - An express train left in an hour. I would go in that. I had heard that he had married in Europe — a false report. ' This then, is his child.' I thought, .' tenderly cared for and caressed: while my child — his as well — where was it? In some foundling house or orphan asylum, neglected, starved, beaten.' My brain was wild with the pain I had suffered, the drug I had swallowed as a nepenthe, I followed the nurse and found her standing on the bridge. 4 ' Whose child is this ?' I asked.' ' ' Mrs. Moatcalm's,' she answered, Bnllenly/ * '' Was it her father who was kissing her gocd-bye at the train ?' ' * ' l^es,' answered the woman. Her eyes were red, her face scowling. I ques tioned her and found she was bitter against this Montcalms. She was related to them and she thought she should be treated as an eqsal — not as a. servant. She was anxious to get' money that she mighr leave them and Ifatfit up a lover whom she thought they had ijep&rated her from. The idea flashed into any half-crazed brain to bribe the girl to give me the child and pretend that it had sprung foqm her jarnis and been drowned 1 acted upon it She held oat till she saw the gold, and then she half consented I snatched the child, wrapped it in my cloak, and hurried to the. train which was then starting. 1 will go with it to ISTew York, I said, leave it with a woman there while I find Captain Montcalm. 1 will say to him. ' I have your child — yoar petted darling Give me back my child and you shall have yours ; refuse, and 1 ?will never tell you where she is — not if you kill me or imprison me. I am desperate I do not care She shall be raised in .poverty and shame !' ' * I. did not carry out ray programme. An accident happened to the train. I was bruised and mv arm broken. The child was not hurb. . Before I had quite recovered I knew I had been in error — that it was General and not Captain Montcalm's child I had. taken. I wonld have restored her hut you had sailed for Europe I had no money to follow, and I had a horror of the ocean.- I kept the little one I was not always kind to her. She had the Montcaim face, and in some dark moods I could have crushed her for the look there was in her eyes. But I did not mean to leave her to starve in a garret at St. Louis, I was try ing 'to work honestly for my bread. I fell in the street from over-heatine- faiierue, and
weakness — brought on by poor food. I was takea to the hospital. I had a long period of illness— a longer period of mental derangement.' She stopped, her voice had sunk to a Whisper . Leaning toward her, the General had drunk in her storv- When she paused, he . Baid ; ' And the child starved in the garret ?' 'No; that young man standing there found her, and took care of her until epme ©f his friends adopted her.' 'Were they — were they honest people, madam e ?' ' As honest as. you or your daughter, General Montcahn. They raised her honestly — bo honestly that when I found her and claimed her and would (God forgive mei have helped to do her a wrong, her own purity saved -feeri' The last words were hardly audible ' Where is she — speak, woman, I com mand— I entreat yon !' he cried seizing her arm. He thought her jdyini? or dead. Her Kds .were closed and her white lips parted. 'Where is she ?' Jjc demanded, turning to Max.. .:.... , Zulimee 1-eviveS. She waved her delicate hand at*l£ax to stajjiis answer. * Let me first '^ve you proof of my story,5 she said. * There is a small chain around xny neck ; Inez, unfasten it.' The dark Woman with the hard, bead black leyea rose, undii the clasp of the slender ^hain and took it from Zulimee's Beck. As she lifted it and t^eneral Mont calm caaghtsight of £he cross-shaped locket of gold and jet that dangled from it, he ?tretched out his hand eagerly He touched a epring, and a lid in the centre of the cross flew open, showisg the miniature face of a ?tately old lad/. * My mother's face,', said the General, * My child had this around her neck when she wa« drowned. We never found the body; 'ire supposed the whirling current had carried it off or swept it under the rocks. Someone «lfietnay have found the body, end tbisehftin sawy have been— ^ ? ?.?,.. --....?. *? .'.
c Pardon me for interrupting you, general,' said Max stepping forward and holding out a folded paper. * Here is a confession of the nurse — Nell 'Barnes — witnessed as you see, by Ira HeathclifE and Honor Montcalm , Your daughter has doubtless told you of this paper. It was not burned, as supposed, but it was safely preserved/ General Montealin unfolded the paper with a shaking hand. He ran his eye rapidly over it — his expression of doubt gave place to one of assurance. He looked up and eaid huskily : . ' ' The child — whsre is she — she was my darling— her mother'* heart was broken at her loss. And vcu ! -woman, God may for give you, I never will. Young man, she says you took caie. of my child. Does she still live ? Where is she ?' * She wa3 called Kildee — a pet name — she enew no other ; she was with your daughter in the room with Kell Barnes when the woman died, and when the fire occurred.' £ And wa3 left in the burning house and perished. Great God I I remember! Mr daughter was strongly drawn to that girl — ? she grieved over her horrible death. And she was her sister — my oxm little' Ruth. Why did you resurrect this crime ? Why did you tell me my child lived, only to add that' she died before I knew her ? ' ' 'Be calm, General,' said Heathclifi! ' Your daughter did not perish in the flames* It was another who was burned, it was she whom Carleon rescued She did not want to marry me ; and so she went away with her foster sister She is not very far off, and will come to you soon. You will find' her as true and pure as though she had been reared in your own home. Bide by side with her sister Honor. The General dropped into a chair and put his f aee upon bis hand. When he raised his head, his eyes were moist and shining. He got up and shook hands warmly with Mai * It seems I owe you unspeakable thanks, my friend, I know you better,' he said. Then he turned and saw Hazard still sitting in the window, half screened by ihe faded purple drapery, The boy was very pale. More than once fce had been on the point 0!: stealing out of the room, but a strange attraction chained him. to his seat, and turned his eyes psrsistently to the white face upon the pillow. And yet she had not seen him. General Montcalm broke into an esicted, happy laugh aDd cried out to Hazard : ' Hall, do hear this wonderful story ! Is it true, or am 1 dreaming ?? Tell me.' He seized Hazard by the arm and drew him from the window. ' Waa there anything more wonderful ? I have two daughters— my little Ruth was not drowned — she was not burned. She i3 alive ; I shall see her. What is the matter ? You look miserable You mufet be happy. Do yon not congratu late me P ' With all my heart, General.' At the sound of his voice, a spasm pasted over the deathlike face on the pillow ; her eyes flashed open — wildly, eagerly. They fell upon Hazard, and a great light of love and longing leaped into them. ' My boy, my son, my darling/ she cried ; ' you did come to me ! You did come to see me die ! God bless you ! I — ' She stopped ; the look upon Hazard's face choked the words in her throat — a look, dark with scorn, loathing, fnry. Her arms, she had stretched out to him, dropped at her side. ' Forgive me,' she said faintly. ' I did not mean to speak — the sight of you was so sudden. I meant never to tell — never to let the world know. But it is done now. Oh ! for pity's sake do cot look at me so ! Come to me my child !' ' Yon are delirious, crazy !' exclaimed Hazard, white with anger. ' 1 am no child of yours.' Her eyes flashed as a name leaps up from wan ashes. * You are my son,' she cried . ' I have nursed you at this bosom. I mourned for you, prayed for you, Bought for you every where. I caught this last sickness follow ing after you in the night. I have watched your bed unknown when you were sick:. There stands a man vrho knows you are my eon, For my sake, he traced you out and found you at the monastery. Afterward you ran away from the Catholic school \ he saw you here and knew you. He has your letters written to the father superior, asking him to tell yon of your parentage The priest sent them to him. Heathclifi' would not tell you who your parents were. He did not want to shame you — to spoil your career. 1 ought not to have spoken. I meant to have died and made no sign . But I saw you ; longed to hear you call me mother. Oh, my son, do not. deny me. It is too hard, too cruel to disown a dying mother, though she be— what 1?ate has made me. General Montcalm, you cannot turn against my bof, for he iB of your own ? blood — the Montcalm blood-5 Hazard's, eyes half sad, half -imploring, sought the General's face. He stood (after his first start of surprise) listening to this unexpected revelation, with stern unmoving features. Ifow a look of cold scorn came into his face, ? 4 The Montcalm blood, with the bar sinister,' he said. 'Do* you imagine 1; wonld recognise it, even were it proved the Montcalm blood,- which it is not, There is no trace of it there ' (turning his cold eyes on Hazard). * It is your face ? wby did I not see it before ?' r * He is your brother's sonr— I swear it ?' ' He is the son of a child-stealer, a man slayer— -a — V * Hush !' sue said, eharply, holding forth : her clasped imploring bands. * Do not say it. He scorn?, he hates me now ; it. is enough. But it is no fault of his that he is my son ; and the world will never know. He is gifted; he is ambitious ; you are his patron. Do not cast him out of yonr favor ' . * If he can deny you, if he can prove that — — * ' ' Stop !' cried Hazard. His face was white and drawn, but the manhood in him had awakened, ' 1 forbid you to sting her with another word.. 1 will not deny her. Mother!' lie knelt at the bedside; 'you are my -motner I I feel it, Ifelt it wlen
you first spo !ie to me that dark night in the streets. Mother,' he bowed his head over her irnd pressed his lips t:- hers, ' live that I may take care of you — that I may love you,' he said, raising his head a little that he might see her face. A wonderful light transfigured that face. For an instant it glowed in more than its youthful loveliness. She lifted her arms and clasped the liecii of her boy. She tried to speak, her lips parted, and a smile of im. utterable ;joy and tenderness played about them ; then sae drew him down to her and held him to her heart. In the stillness was heard her quick, sobbing breath — once, twice, then all v/as silent. Hazard felt her arms relax. Softly he unclasped them and looked at her face. ' She is dead !' he said. He kissed the stiJl smiling lips, and bowed his head upon her pillow. (to be contixued.}