|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||Mystery of the Red House: An American Story of Thrilling Interest|
fit story of the Red House
AST V3IERICA.N STORY OF THEIL LING INTEREST.
By Maey E. Betas.
(Commenced in tlie Evening News of Sep' temher 20 J CHAPTER XXV Continued.
Ilontlielig looked earnestly at the girl's face. The breoze had blown back her hat, aud the mellow light of the low sun was full on her brond brow and clear cut, hi^h-bred features. Who did she remind him of ? Some face, it seemed, he had lately seen — but -wliosa ?
' Sirs. Gouzalis left the house shortly after Ieniersd it,' he said presently. 'I saw her from the window, crossing the bay in a little skiff — rowing herself, i recognised her figure ? Do you know which way she went ?' ' 1 did sofc know she had lei't the island She said a little while ago that she repented I ever having come, and seemed restless and I rner.sy.' I ' 1 1 'i 3 probable that she will leave the city I jn some t^ain that goes ont to night.' mused I Eeathcliff. ' Two trains left at five, she I did not reach the depot in time to take I either of those. Two express trains leave I. atei^ot; it is probable 8he will take passage I on one of i hese.' Than he added to hi mself : I ' I mast see her before she goes' I Mavor Healhcliff studied Kildee's face I veil during the row from the island to the I main shore. The result of that study and I the pathos of her simply told tale stirred I interest and sympathy in. his breast. I They reached the landing just as the snn I —a great red globe— dropped behind the I roofs' and steeples of Wallport The mayor I dismissed the two officers who had accom I -oan'ed him, with thanks for their serrices I and a request to meet him in the office nest I day, when it should be decided what should I be done in tbe affair at Aphrodite Island, ? Then he turned to Kildee : ? ' 'Vvbat vrillyoudo ?' he asked of her. ? ' I will thank you from my heart for your ? Kndnes?, and say good-bye,' she answered, ? holding out her hand. I He task it and felt that it trembled. Her ? little face was quite pale. The noisy, motley, I elbowing,.careless crowd on the levee made ? her courage falter. This was the world in ? which she was to push her way to a place. ? She held fast of St. Peter with one hand ; ? behind her walked a boy with, her little ? trunk. The mayor had no intention of ? leaving her unprotected. He drew her hand B through his arins I ' My carriage is waiting for me close by,' ? lie said. ' Let me put you down at the place I you wish to go to.' ? ' I have no place in my mind- I am ? strange to this city. I have no friend here.' ? ' Shall I take you to the house of some I good lady friend of mine ; or to my own B house, I have a pleasant housekeeper — until B you can look about you and decide what you B will do, or write to your friends ?' B She shook her head.
' I don't know where they are ; and I lave no money to go to them. No, Mr. Heathcliff ; I would like to go to work to earn tny living. I would like to go at once ' He smiled at her earnestness and at the business-like look on her face ' At once ?' he repeated* looking toward the sunset sky. * The night cometh when no man can work,' he quoted ; ' nor little woman either. What kind of work -would you like ?' ' Any I can go. I cannot do anything that requires culture I can read pretty well, and I writs a good plain hand, and I know enough of figures to cast up simple accounts, that is all. But I can gew, and trim, and make pastry and cook it, and I can do housework and nurse the sick.' * Why, yen are accomplished after all/ said the mayor smiling. ' I think we can find you a place There is a nice old lady oi my acquaintance who keeps a little fruit and flower shop. Her husband is a kind hearted, crochety old fellow ; he raises flowers and rabbits in a tiny square of garden not much bigger than a bed-quilt, back of the shop. They sleep above the shop and the place up there looks attractive from the outside, with its balcony and bird-cages and flowering-plants. A day or two ago, Madame Jean told me her rheumatism made it so bad for her that she must give up her business or get an assistant. I advised her to get a good emart girl to help her, and she shrugged her plump 3houlders, and said girls, both good and smart, were scarce as black berries in December.' ' I am afraid she will not think 1 am that rare combination,' Kildee said ' 'We'll risk it,' the mayor answered, and he called to the coachman and bade him drive ttfMme. Jean's fruit shop on Main street. Kildee looked out of ihe window, eeeing the city sights in brilliant panorama as the carriage bowled over the well-paved streets, yet scarcely noting what she saw, for her thoughts were busy with oiher things. Suddenly she iurned to Heathcliff ' There's St. Peter,' shu said, * my poor comrade here; what -will be done with him? Where has he been' staying ?' * Part of the time afc the Chanty Home in this city. I carried him to that institu tion. But they tell me he will not stay there — sfcravs off every day, usuallv to the Wharf ' . J
' He would not stray away from me,' Kildee said. ? lie was restless because he 'Was looking for me. If I could obtain this place at the '-fruit shop, would it be possible to get St. Veter in there too ? He is harm less and he eats very little ; he plays beauti fully, and Zack, the marmoset, turns somer saults and dances. It would attract custom to the shop, would it no. ?' 'I think so,1 the mayor said, inwardly Smiling at lier earnestness and simplicity. ' Yes ; I fancy that St. Peter's accomplish ments, topped by Zach'e, would prove a drawing card/ Be said, to himself that if Mme Jean did cot regard it in that light, he would privately pay the daft fiddler's board at her establish ment and St Peter's independent little guardian would be none the wiser. i ' Here we are/ he eaid at length, as the | carriage stopped. Kildee looked out and saw two large shop windows already lighted Up, displaying prettily arranged fruits and oandyjars, interspersed with pots of flower ing plants. She had a glimpse of a lighted interior, with a tinted' paper on the wall, well-filled shelves «nd hanging baskets and bird-cages I Kildee made St. Peter understand that he I must wait outside the door while she went; [with the mayor inside. ...... „ -
* That is Madame Jean,' Heatheiiff said, as they stepped just across the threshold, 'beside the cage of a pair of lovely Jamaica sparrows. He pointed to a short, plump old lady, in a lilac-flowered muslin with wide sleeves looped up, a fresh complexion and crisp grey curls. She was arranging cut flowers in a basket for a customer who was standing impatiently watching the pro cess. A tiny shaggy black spaniel with an old solemn face, grey- whiskered, and one eyed, sat on the counter gravely eyeing his mistress's proceedings. Mme. Jean was evidently burned and nervous Her little plump hands made awkward movements, the flower stems were refractory, the folliage and vine sprays rebellious ' Angeiine/ called a plaintive voice from within. ? Am I not to have any tea ? Thi6 toast is choking me.' The stem of a superb Marechal Neil rose snapped off short in Mme. Jean's hand.. She gave a quick movement, and evidently a rheumatic twinge assailed her, fo? she bit her lip and her rosy color ebbed. She pushed flowers and baskets from her. * It is onpossib' to till your ordare, sir,' she said. ' We have no flower-baskets to. day.'. ' But you promised, and I have been wait ing all this while. This is a nice way to serve an old customer.' She waved her hands outward and made a mock bow. * You are at libertee to take your custom otter way, monsieur,' she said, ' I wish she would let me arrange the flowers,' Kildee said in an undertone to the mayor. He stepped forward holding her hand, ' Good evening Madame Jean. Can 1 get some purple figs for Tny cream this even ing ? Not now ; presently when you are at your leisure. I want to try once more to make friends with Hugo, this most dignified of dog3. Meantime, I have a little friend here who thinks she can make that basket look all right. Will you let her try, while you go and give your good hnsband his tea?' The dutch-doll face lighted up , * Ah, my friend, you are good — always good. Tee leetle oWs all try her hand at tee basket, reet welcome.'
She bowed, smiling, and went into the inner room. ELildee took the basket and began the work of arranging the flowers in it HeathcliS watched her deft fingers interweaving flower-stems, adjusting sprays and twisting vines about the basket handle The impatient customer began to look well pleased as he saw the basket growing into a thin ^ of beauty. ' Dje3 it come to you by instinct, this sort of thing, as nest-building comes to a jenny wren 't asked the mayor when the last graceful sprays or smilax were added to the mass of bloom and fragrance. ' I have done this often and often,' said Kildee. ' 1'ised baskets, you know, to be sent to us on the stage.' ? ' As complimentary homages from an admiring audience,' Heathcliff said. She nodded, then looked up and caught his quizzical smile, and blushed. ' It was by way of advertiseHient/ she eaid. ' Papa Professor said it was all square, and Jie wouldn't do anything' that was not fair.' Mme. came from the inner room just as the tall young man received his basket, and was saying to Kildee : ' Here's the old lady's two dollars, and a quarter over which you have a right to pocket, my little maid. It's tbe prettiest basket I've ever seen.' 1 The flowers were so lovely,' Kildee said, disclaimingly She put the money into Mme Jean's hand, shaking her head, smiliug, but firm, when that lady insisted an her ac cepting a silver half -dollar- * Ah, if one could get une petite, so nice and handee, to asseest in tee shop !' said madame. ' The petite, is at your service, Madame Jean,' returned the mayor. ' Behold in me the fairy godfather who brings you the treasure you eo much coveted — a treasure, scarce, you declared, a? Christmas berries — a good and smart girl to help you.' 1 Ah !' Mme Jean became instantly critical. She put on her gold-rimmed glasses and inspected the girl as she was wont to do the fruit she bought of the wholesale dealer, spying for specks and bruises.
'She look ver' tecdre, dedicate,' she said. ' But she looks healthy and she looks good, and she is smart, as you have seen,' said the mayor quite diverted ' Looks weel tell lie, Monsieur le Maire ; looks weel tell lie,' eaid the little fat doll, sententiously. Then she added : * We s'all see how Hugo likes her. Hugo haf more sense as men. Here, Hugo.' She put the fluffy black, morsel on the counter and said to him * c Hugo, ees Ma'm'selle— w'at s'all I say?' ' Kildee,' said the mayor. 4 Keeldee ? Ah, tees Americaine name ? Hugo, s'all Ma'm'selle Keeldee be friends weet us ?* The namesake of the great poet cocked his head on one side and scrutinized Kildee. A look of grave suspicion was in his one eye. Kildee could not help smiling. Hugo drew himself up as she thought to intimate that he was not to be biassed iu his judgment by such cajolery ; at length his expression, re laxed in its severitv : he held out his Daw :
Kildee shook it, laughing. ? Hugo approves of her,' said Heathcliff, who had enjoyed the little Frenchwoman's test. Mine. Jean nodded and signified her indorsement of Hugo's opinion by patting Kildee's shoulder' Mme. Jean's husband now 'came in, a little dark person with olive skin,, crinkled, withrfine wrinkles, keen black eyes and curly iron-grey hair. He wore a red-flowered dressing-gown and a black velvet cap with, a tarnished tassel. Kildee's love of the picturesque was gratified by his looks She thought the two a quaint and charming pair The mayor presented Kildee to M. Jean, and madame informed him of taking the girl as assistant, and that Hugo had shown, him self satisfied with her. ? St. Peter, meanwhile, tired pi. standing outside with his back against the wall teased by his usual torments, the boys, had taken his seat on the doorstep and now began to pay. *Hist !' said M. Jean, holding up his hand. * Tat ees music' . ? ? . (to be continued.) The Victorian. Government -will press forward tbe He-distribution of Seats Bill in the Legisla tive Assembly this week before $31 other feusi