Chapter 18936314

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberVII
Chapter TitleTHE BLOW FALLS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18936314
Full Date1884-09-13
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count1651
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleLove and Passion
article text

CHAPTER VII.

THE BLOW »ALLS.

Esslea's moody 'eyes swept the face of the girl'

with a glance of surprise, and something like con- j sternatjon crossed ber face like . shadow. I

" Alton Carroll is dead I" abe answered, briefly, I

The girl reeled as though Eseio« had struck her. I

"DeadI Oh, Heaven!" she faltered; "I cannot

believe it!"

" Nevertheless, it is true I" returned Essica, coldly. " Here," laying a card in Ruth's cold hapd ; '< this is the address of Mr, Carroll's lawyer He is stopping here, and will give you any information that you may desire."

Thus tacitly dismissed, Ruth-poor, homeless Ruth I-turned away, and once more alone, Essica and Alicia Btood aod confronted each other,

Alicia's eyes were fixed upon the beautiful, mock- ing face before her, her breath coming slowly, her heart almost standing still with the weight of horror upon it; and in that moment of supreme agony there darted into her mind a text that she had read somewhere, away back in the vanished past-" The wages of sin is death." She caught her breath with a oonvulsive shudder, and a look fall of anguish dawned m her eyes. Then, recovering herself, she demanded, haughtily, with a determination to die rather than allow her rival to gloat over her weak nesB and misery :

" What do you mean, madam P Fray explain your mysterious words !"

But her assumed calmness did not deceive Eesica, v»ho gazed into the depths of the troubled blue eyes with slow contempt stealing over her face.

" What do I mean ?" she returned, slowly and ma- liciously. " Be sure that I shall be pleased to tell you, And before I utter a word in regard to this secret, let me remind you that I have all necessary proofs of its truth in my possession. There is no loop-bole of escape, no hope that it may prove a falsehood or a mistake. But, ta begin properly, I must go back a little. The night following the day upon which my mother was buried at sea, your father, Geoffrey Lawrence, entered my state-room and stole from it my mother's writing desk, It con- tained valuable papers, though she had never shared their contents with me, or revealed to me their Beeret. Only, just before she died told me {hat upon those papers all my future prosperity depended ; and she bade me take them, when I should reach shore, and place them in the hand of some reliable person who would know what stepB to take. I think she had more to say upon the subject, but ehe had unfortu- nately delayed too long and tbe awful pain and siffo. cation came back upon her. She did not linger many honra, and ehe Bever spoke again, Well, as I have said, your father carried those papers away with Mm-back to America, and to Lawrence Park, Af- ter a time I ceased to trouble myself in regard to the mysterious documents ; but when your-ah-rather unexpected marriage took place, my dear Mrs. Ross- iter, and I, having planned my revenge, accepted the hand of Alton Carroll, laying out my future all with

the end and aim to ruin you and yours, I stole into your father's room at night, before I left Lawrence Park, and secured the papers. They were mine, re- member-mine I-and I only took possession of my own property. Alicia Rossiter, would you like to know the secret, the fatal, guilty secret, whioh those papers contain P Then listen : They tell, in plain, con- cise terms, the truth-that you are the child of sin and shame; that your mother, who was a low servant-woman, was never the wife of Geoffrey Law l renee, In consequence of this unpleasant fact, my

dear madam, the estate of Lawrence Park cannot possibly revert to you in any legal way. But, Jam the sole legitimate heir to the great Lawrence estate ! for my mother was a Lawrence, and I-thank Heaven I-have no stain upon my name I Bat, for yourself. I pity you, Alicia Rossiter! You are the lowest of nameless creatures !

"Bereft of husband, home, fortune, friends, ay, even name. And upon your guilty head the curse of the wronged and outraged woman whose whole life has been laid waste by your wicked deed. As soon as your father dies, I shall claim my inheritance ; at present I will permit you to find shelter under my roof. Go back to Lawrence Park it you choose. Perhaps it will be the best thing that you can do, and remain there for a time. Alicia Rossiter, you stole from me my only love-the love of the man for whose sake I would submit to the tortures of the Inquisition ; for whose sake I have suffered beyond description ; you robbed me of home and fortune yon and youra; now go back to that berne, and take

witb you the consequences of your wrong-doing. Upon your head the curs» rests ; it will follow you through life, and descend upon your childi And through the long years to come, do not think to es- cape me; for I have no other objeot in existence but your humiliation and destruction, and I have sworn to gain complete vengeance, though I wait twenty years to obtain it !"

The horror-stricken woman had sat like a statue her eyes full of wild anguish, mute, beseeching in- credulity, fixed upon the dark, glowing face of the woman before her-her mortal enemy, her relentless foe-an incarnate fiend, made so by ber own greBt wrongs. Essica Carroll was not the woman to do anything by halves. She was either all good or all evil; and now every noble impulse had departed from her life; she had closed the door of her heart to every tender or womanly feeling ; she believed that she had crushed her love for Guy Rossiter and trampled it under her feet; henceforth she was pitted against those whom she considered her bitter

enemies.

Alicia could not speak ; she bad no words to utter ; she was weak and faint with anguish ; ahe was suf- fering intensely. It was a horrible outlook upon which her mental vision gazed ; first, the dreadful revelation to which had just listened, and which she dare "not doubt-for there was something in Esiica's manner which convinced Alicia in spite of herself that she was speaking truly. Then her hus- band's alienated affections. That he should believe her false-sha who had risked her own soul to win him. She realized now, with a sickening heart, how vain ia such a sacraflce always-how unappreciated by its object. And he, believing the Worst of her, was a prisoner on so fearful a charge, and before her memory arose that scene on the shore of the little lake, and the dead body under the olive tree. Ob, Heaven, it was horrible-horrible I No wonder that Alicia Rossiter was deprived of the power of speech, almost of consciousness ; no wonder that she suc- cumbed weakly ; all her strength gave way ; with a low cry, she flung herself upon the floor and groveled at Essica's feet,

" Pity-pityjne 1" she.walled, in her anguish and heart-break. Sill me outright, but do not torture me in this way any longer. I bava sinned-I have wronged you bitterly, Essica; but, if repentance, re- morse, and regret can wipe out the unhappy past,

then-"

" Ay,' interrupted Essica, coldly, " you shall have cause to regret it, madam, to the latest hour of your life I Mrs. Rossiter, your repentance comes too

late 1"

Half fainting, she had fallen forward, and lay crouching at Essica's feet, her arms thrown over her head in wild abandon, her golden hair unbound and ?treaming loosely over the tesselated floor-a " Danae shower of gold."

Essica turned with a contemptuous gestuft, and set her little foot upon the soft yellow hair, a cruel, smile wreathing her beautiful lips, like an evil spirit gloating over an enemy's downfaU ; then she left the

room with a slow step and closépoTthe don-¡T~^

her. Pity had died out of Essica! Carrol^i hea '

As she left the room she cameXface to t

Ruth Carroll. The girl stood borroWrfcLn! wiUl bim« with terror; evidently she had overhe' a' Essica glided up to her and lifted a tat,of *MaJI» threatening eyes to the girl's frlghtenei fa. 0ä"y»

" 7b» here still P" she demanded, ,. '.

"Eavesdroping, IJsuppose. A|characteri8. eB*'y«

Carroll family." of "._

A quick, angry retort trembled upon Rat!;"'

tongue : but long ago she bad learnerfnä "a lesson in life-to conquer self. So she'Äía<Éfit with quiet dignity and answered : WHfaed

" I could not refrain from hearing yS,..

words, madam. They froze me with mrT that I was powerless to move. Heaven fl"°r

for torturing a human being as you havevjj ^ that poor girl I Stand aside; I am going in if? .

to her; for if ever a woman needed the help of av Bister woman, I believe that ehe does"

Involuntarily EsBioa stepped aside, end Ruth swept past her over the threshhold, As she entered the room she paused and glanced back into Eseica'B pale face, with its dark eyes full of burning hatred» fixed upon her.

" Remember my words, Mrs. Carroll," Ruth said slowly, " for they will come true ; ' The curse of the wicked shall descend upon his own head! '"

Then she closed the door in Essica's face, and stooped over the prostrate figure on the floor. What occurred at that interview no one else ever knew ; but when Alicia started for America and Lawrence Park -her only refuge now-Ruth went with ber. She had one friend after all.