Chapter 18935896

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleA MAD MARRIAGE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18935896
Full Date1884-09-06
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2332
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleLove and Passion
article text

. CHAPTER III.

A HAD MABBIA9.B.

For a moment the astonished guests stood stalng at each other, speechless with consternation, ale and awe-stricken.

With a stifled groan Geoffrey Lawrence sprog forward end faced the dssertedíbride.

" What de you,meBn P"ho pantod, hoarsely, "je peat those words, Essies Vsldez, if you dare!"

And he teized her elim, white wriBt in a graapof

iron.

Calmly she released herself, and lifted her proa, icy face, with its look of frozen horror, end gaze straight into her uncle'» eyes.

"I repeat my assertion, sir," she said, quietlj " Guy Rossiter was married to your daughter thi, morning. Here is his letter." And she laid the fata letter in his band.

The frenzied look disappeared from Geoffrey]

Lawrence's excited face. Trembling like an aspen! leaf he opened the letter, and slowly deciphered its

contants :

" Dbab Essica : Forgive me t forgive me 1 I do not love you well enough to marry yon, My heart his gone into the keeping of Alicia, and it wauld be a sin to marry you when all my love is bera. One hour ago I made her my wife, and we start for the North at once. Am I beyond pardon, Essica P If not, think kindly of me sometimes, for the sake of ' auld lang syne.' Guy Rosanna."

Geoffrey Lawrence stood like a gray stone statue while he read this effusion through-this cruel, in- sulting letter. Ha read it slowly, carefully-once, twics- then folded it and turnad and glancad into the marble face of the wronged, insulted, outraged

womanJiefore him, It was as impenetrable as the

Sphinx.

" I have a word to say in my daughter's defence,' he began, coolly, addressing his guests. " For years sha was as good as engaged to Guy Rossiter, and expected some day to bicorne his wife; but when he mit Eielca Valdez her wonderful beauty turned his hsad, and for a time he imagined himself desper- ately in love with her. As ha and Alicia had never been farmally betrothed, be found it easily t* break the intangible tie between them, and woo and win the Spanish girl, That he has repented, even at the eleventh hour, I can feel no surprise, though his caurie has hardly been honorable, and deserves censure."

A vague convietion that Alicia was not entirely to be blamed-that she had only claimed her own, and was not so far wrong after all-began to steal over the audience. Alicia was the child of a millionaire, you lee, and Essica but a poor relation. And when the fashionables who had been bidden to the wed- ding took their departure, a general opinion waa expressed that it " served the Valdez girl right I she WBS always so proud and haughty, and pride must

have a fall."

Essica stood still in the centre of the great draw ing-reom, in her costly bridal robes, and watched the guests depart in perfect silence. When the last had gone, ehe turned slowly and faced her uncle.

" Geoffrey Lawrence," she said, in a calm, un- natural tone, her eyes meeting his gaze fearlessly, "youhave witnessed to-day my utter humiliation Now mark my words. The time will surely come ay, it is not far distant-when your child will know what I have suffered. As eure as you stand; there, she shall yet feel the anguish and the bitter shame that have devastated my life. Though I wait twenty years, I shall have my revenge-believe me, Geoffrey

Lawrence."

She tornad to leave his presence. He put forth one hand as though to detain her, but she thruBt it away, and with an imperious gesture motioned him from ker path, Then she swept past him with calm oontempt, and gliding up the broad, velvet-covered staircase, entered her own room and locked the door behind her.

Once alone, with no eye to look upon her, she be- came an incarnate fury. She tore the diamonds from her satin robe, casting them from her upon the rich carpet, where they lay like dropa of dew ; she rent the costly veil into fragments, groveling, upon the floor like a mad creature. Her long black hair had become unbound ; she clutched it in her white bands and tore it madly. Her pallid face was set in wordless anguish, and her small hands clenched each other until the red blood spurted forth. Snatching the diamond solitaire from her finger, where he bad placed it with loving words and vows that were lies, she tottered to the window and tossed it far out into the great rose-scented garden. There was a flash like a falling star, and then she turned away.

As she did so her glance fell upon a Bible which lay un a marble table near-an elegant volume, bound in blue velvet and ivory, with clisps of gold, Falling upon her knees, she pressed the sacred book to her lips,

" Upon this Bible," she panted, " I solemnly swear to be avenged upon the mau who has blighted my life ! I swear to be to him a Nemesis-to dog his footsteps and follow him like a curse! I swear to track them both down-down to shame, anguish, bitter humiliation, even death itself! They shall have cause to remember the Spanish blood in my veins, and that, the Spaniard never forgets or for« given!" , , .

She arose to ber feet with outward calm. Remov- ing the Batin wedding-dress, she substituted a plain black one, huddling the soiled and rumpled white satin and the fragments of the rich Isca veil into a careless heap upon the floor. Then she rang the bell with a steady hand, and a servant appeared, agape with curiosity.

"Remove that trash !" commanded Enies, coldly Half stupefied with wonder and terror-for the cold, set face and the wild, dark eyes of the deserted bride were like those of a maniao-the servant si- lently obeyed, and once more the door was closed

and locked. ??

Up and down the floor of her room Essica Valde» paced like a caged tigresi, her eyes full of smoulder- ing fire, her cold band clasped upon her bosom, her face pallid and set in voiceless anguish.

And so the remainder of the day went by, and night fell; the pale, calm-eyed moon came forth and bathed the earth in a flood of molten silver.

Still Essica walked the floor with tireless tread. At last a sudden impulse seized her-to get away out into the free, open sir-out into the pale, white beauty of the silent moonlight. r ^

Mechanically she threw a fleeoy white wrap about her shoulders, and leaving her room, glided down the stairs through a side door, and out into the silvery radiance of the night.

The grounds were spacious and well cultivated. Borne distance from the house there was an orna- mental lake; it was at the foot of the garden, and Essica wandered down to its shore. A ruBtic seat stood under the overhanging boughs of a great oak tree ; she seated herself, and fell into a bitter reverie.

! The moments passed, and at last a shadow fell I athwart the great paton of moonlight at her side

the shadow of a man.

With a low exclamation half surpressed, upon her Ups, Essica sprang to her feet and confronted the

intruder,

He drew slowly near and lifted his hat, A man of twenty five or thirty * < are. A cold, statuesque face, with steel-grey eyes, and a heavy beard and moustache, which, like his hair, were sunny gold. Not a face to trust exactly. One would involuntarily pro* nounce it a cruel face. There were stern, hard lines abont the mouth, and the chin was square and heavy, and unnaturally Arm, A man with a mighty will-power. A selfish calculating frund; and a bitter, remorseless, relentless foe. He stood'before her, bis hat in his hand, his eyes, fall of greedy, devouring passion, fixed upon her beautiful, statu- esque face.

,' Essica I" he panted, eagerly, holding out his

hand.

Her startled eyes met his with a look of dread-of

aversion.

" Alton r ehe faltered ; bnt she did not Bccept the proffend hand. " How came yon here P"

" Esses," he went on, hoarsely, " I know all. Do youwisttrevsngeP"

i Her ejei glinted savagely.

I " Do I^she repeated, curtly. "Ay, and I have

, sworn to btoin it 1 Alton Carroll, if you can set me

in the rigi way to gain the vengeance I desire, speok-telme at ones !"

His eyes ione like pale fire. He seized her hands ?nd bent ovt|ber, studying her face with hungry

;ate.

!, " Marry mt? he panted.

She struggd, to her feet, Indignation flashing fr»m hw eyeB. k

" That you fould insult me," she ejaculated, her voice laden wi| bitterness.

But still he lia her hands, and still he gazed into, her eyes with to mesmeric, compellmg gaze.

. "Youundersljurne," he went on, steadying his voice that it mitt not betray the strength of his emotion. " Tonnow that I love you, Essica ; no one knows that «tter than yourself, Do you re- member the timenke year ago, when you led me on

to believe that yoo^red for meP When I lived on ¡ the sof t'glances as'^be kind words wbioh yon gave

me, and created a ol's paradise for myself P And all the time you vb¿ betrothed to Gay Bossiter. And when I asked m to be my wife you laughed laughed in my face. Ah, Essica Valdez, you do not know the anguish endured that night, out under the great magnolia ¿der, where you told me that you belonged to anoijfj and you mocked my bitter, despairing grief. Buihe time has come when I can afford to overlook alhat. I can place at your dis- posal the means by wah, to gain the revenge that you desire. Marry miEssica, and let the world be*

lieve that \t has been qeived, not you. Be my wife at once, this very hournd who can taunt you then with being a forsakenride, deserted at the very altar ? I will trump up story for the world's ears, to the affect that you hi 'gone long ago ceased to love Roiaiter, and had gin your heart to me, though bound ia honor to keep mr faith with him, That» had you mauled him, j\ would have gone to the altar an unwilling brid) but that his perfidy re. leased you from your gal jfjbonds at the last mo-

ment, and then you gave rt^self to me. Will yon consent, Essies P" ">,

She drew her hands frorhis grasp, end arose, con-' fronting him with blazingvès.

" I hate you !" the pantt, desperately He bowed mockingly. ',

" No doubt, my dear ; bufrj matter, Perhaps my love for you íb not-well-4tô what it was once«

Only be my wife, and leave fewest to fats- By this step you will rob Alióla La<ekcs of her triumph, end it seems to me the only tpedient Btep for you to take. For now, of court, yon will; remain no langer under your uncle's rd;'(fancy the prospect

of being there to welcome tnhride on her return

from her wedding tour!) anárjjíat will become of you, my poor ohild, out in ia\ great, cold, cruel world P J will care for you, wea, and you need never ba alone again." f

She shivered slightly, as s-Jesned her dusky

head against the trunk of thqïd tree. And she failed to observe the gleam in tin Carroll's eyes

an expression that boded her ngrjod, a look that

was bad to see. |

She looked like a hunted crewe at bay as she stood there, all her heart and sotrjjjhtred upon the one idea how best to pay baok tdfuy Rossiter this feat fal debt of vengeance. Evllpjiits must have

surely taken possesion of this »man. Slowly a

scheme of vengeance filtered throj^her brain, end

at lost she turned and slipped he\wd white hand into Carroll's burning palm.

/" I consent," she mustered, hoB»m " I* will be

your wife, bat come what mayluember this with all my heart and soul, I hate ly'end despise youl" m

He crushed his white teeth Bavegrajp his lower .lip; then he stooped and took both] his own again,

" No matter," he returned, briefly j

some time, If not-"

He turned away with the sentence <

the silent, listening* moon might navel of demoniac joy upon his features, al muttered words hissed savagely thi|

teeth,

" Curses upon her !" he muttered, uni " I will make her life a soene of tonnet! me get her into my power, and I eweaa

back for all that J have suffered. A lill

-a heart for a heart!"

*****

ltd hands in

t Will come

The excitement and consternation in the world ot society knew no bounds, the following morning, at the announcement which appeared In all the leading

journals :

" Marbi»-June 26th, by the Rev. N. L. Manson, Alton Carroll, Esq., of Baltimore, Maryland, to Miss Essica Valdez, of Lawrence Park, The happy pal» sailed for Italy on the steamer Gonzales."

* « # » * ?» ».

And "out on tho ocean, so boundless and wide," a woman leaned over the railing of a gallant vessel and gazed upon the fast receding shores of America. Her beautiful, dusky face was set and stern; the ted Ups parted slowly, and she panted, savagely :

" Though I wait twenty years, I will have revenge, so belp me, Heaven !"

Thus the plot was laid, And in the dark days te ' come, as she trod the path whioh she had marked out for herself, that sinful oath was kept inviolate» the bitter end, and her debt of -vengeance was paid

with interest,