|Chapter Title||THE NEXT STEP.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Love and Passion|
TES HBXI ITS?.
" Father, Is this thing true ? I hare traveled all the lenf, weary way, have crossed the Atlantic, just to Confront you and ask you this question: Is Essica Carroll's story true? Am I the creatnre that her hideous story makes me-nameless, worse then widowed, poverty-BtrIcken, humiliated,' cast off by
the man for whose false sake I bare Binnet sa deeply? Tell me, Geoffrey Lawrance, is this Tile tale only a fabrication, or is it trae P"
Alicia, pale, and wan, end haggard, was kneeling npon the velvet carpet at her father's feet, her white hands clasping his, her great, pathetic eyes, which wore a wild,' hunted look, raised to his hard old face:
The old man turned array. He loved this girl, his only child, with all his wicked heart. For hsr ad. vanceuaent Jue had committed crime, and for her sake he had suffered untold misery ; and now-now she confronted him'with the whole »f the hidden secret, the shameful secret which he had guarded so carefully all his life, and which he could haye given that life to have concealed from her knowledge to the ent\ She had come horne to him, friendless, for- saken, miserable, a wreck of her former self, ill in body and mind, and he realized, as he gazed upon the thin, worn fact uplifted to his own, that he had
tinned in Tain.
He groaned aloud in agony and anguish as he laid ene hand upon her bright~bead, and saw, with a little pitiful shiver, that there were eilyer threads amid its gleamisg cold.
" Alicia, my child," he moaned, feebly, when ke '
saw that he must speak, " do not ask met Do not break your old father's heart with this terrible foes tien ! Better to believe the tale or production of the brain of this fiendish wama» who bates you so In- tensely. If a falsehood would avail|me new, lo caver up from your knowledge all the past, all the hateful regrettée past, then, indeed, I, your unbappy old father, wonl J willingly stain my soul with a moun- tain of lies I Alicia, your unfortunate marriage has been the cause of all yeur unhappinsss t"
" Answer my question I"she panted, harihly,"«nd do not attempt to evade it I I bavo asked you, now answer me or I sball go to others who will f There must be some road to the truth, and I intend to find it ! Geoffrey Lawrence, am I the aamelees creature that Essica Carroll calls mef
The old man bowed his gray head. The sin of hit youth had been indeed resurrected ; and the mret which ho had schemed and lied so many long years to hide, and which the coming horne of his only sis- ter, two years before, bad threatened to expose, wai
a secret no longer. j
" Answer me I" |
His daughter's voice wes stern and hard.
"For the last time," she hissed, " I ask you, and I demand an answer; M this thing truef
"Heaven help me!" wailed Geoffery Lawrence,
"it is truel"
She broke into wild and bitter weeping. Her sobs were fearful, and shook her tbin frame with the strength of a tempest. He stooped to lift her ia his arms, but she struck him aside.
"Don'ttouch mel"she panted brokenly,"don't dare to touch me I I owe all the shame, and angnisb, and disgrace of my life to you, Geoffery Lawrence. Keep back, sir; j ou are no longer my father; I hate you !"
And for her sake be bad sinned, and decieved,aad bad robbed his only sister of her birthright, just to receive such thanks, such gratitude as this.
Bobbing and moaning, Alicia was soon in a it of wild hysterics] her father rang the bell, and ordered Mrs, Ressitoi's maid to attend to her mistress. The hours came and went; hours of suffering and anguish of mind and body ; the house was darkened, the esr Tanto moved abeut on tiptoe ; and grave faces were on every sido.
When morning dawned, Alicia lay among the pfllawi, like a fragile lily, and a little life had been g|ven,Intot her keeping a little life over which was fated to bang a dark cloud of shame, and a bitter
Guy Bossiter's daughter wes bora to a dismal des- tiny; a diminutive specimen of humanity ehe wai, and they called her Tiny. ,
'The dayl carne and went, and Alicia seemed to grow no stronger. She would lie for hour«, scarcely noticing th» «Mid, «-with her' great blue eyes axes' straight before her in a vacant stare ; taking no interest in anything, speaking only when adresssd,
It was a gloomy night, the rain beat against the cssements ; and the windi howled madly about the great house at Lawrence Park, Alone in hor sump, tuoua chamber, Alicia Rossiter lay, pallid as a spectre, thinking, thinking. They had removed the child to a distant apartment ; and no one had ven- tured to disturb the sick woman, lying there, occu- pied by her own bitter thoughts, and listening to,tho revel of th*e storm fiend without. A lamp burned feebly on a bracket, and cast; weird shadows about the room. There was no sound to break the dead silence, aavo V the wind at its prayers," and the oc- casional dropping of a poal in the grate. All at once there was the rustle of trailing garments, and a slim, darkrobed jflgure glided into the room, and ap- proached the bedside, The pale tet face full of hatred, and the great, dark, burning eyes, Essica Carroll
under her own roof(obce more. v (
jAUcia'a.«yea bau closed at last ÜB though in sleep. The intruder came straight to the bedside, and gazed upon the sick woman, while\ meaning emile parted her lipp.i, Theq,,she took from her pocket a tiny vial, and drawing the cork, she beut over a Cable
near, which held a gloss of strengthening cordial. She glanced about the room cautiously, warily; Alicia ley quiet. With a glance of wild hatred, Estica dropped a few drops of the liquid from tas vial into the cordial. '
" It is done 1" she muttered, halt aloud, drawing; a tong breath of relief, " I swore that no crime should deter me t What Is a tingle murder to one who has already stained her soul-as I have done F"
She lifted the glass of cordial in ker hand, as though to administer it to Alicia. As eh* did so, sha* chanced to raise her eyes to the window, and a law cry of hotrer issued from her lip».
She trembled like an aspen, and the wineglass la ker hand fell to the loor, and wai shivered into fragments.
There, pressed close-agsinst the window pane, with evil, sneering eyes fixed upon her movements, was a JSUSSSlSSS*.. Good heaven I had thegrave given up