|Chapter Title||A HEARTLESS WOMAN.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Love and Passion|
A HBA.BTLB88 WOMAN.
For a moment the two women stood there con- fronting each other in dead silence ; then Essica lifted her hand and clutched the girl's trembling
"Come!" she hissed.
Breathlessly Tiny followed ber into a small red and gold boudoir. Essica turned a key in the lock, and motioned the girl to a seat. As Tiny obeyed her she turned on the full blaze of the gaa-lights, and going close to the girl, she laid her hands upon her shoulders and gazed into the fair, spirituelle face with intense, burning «yes,
"No wonder I took you for Alicia Lawrence,"she sneered at last, tired of her long, silent scrutiny ; you nre the living image of her. How dare you come here in'o my presence, child of the fiend who ruined my life and wrecked my happiness, and mad» a mock of me in the eyes of the cold, hard, cruel, world P How dare you come here, leay? What do you want ? Answer me, or, al Heaven bears me, I will toke your life ! I will sweep you from my path as remorselessly as I would'kill a fly; Answer and be quick about it !"
Tiny had risen to her feet. The great pansy-blna eyes were fixed in wordless horror upon Essica'a in- solent face. A shudder passed ever the girl's elim fig- ure ; then the golden head was crested proudly, and the clear eyes gave back acorn for scorn, while the enrnest voice, which bad never been trained to falsehood answered* slowly and distinctly :
" Madam, I hove come here to see Guy Rossiter. Ha ia my own father. Do you understand me, Mrs. nossiter P I have a rieht to ooma to my father's house 1"
Did a memory flit acrosa Essica Bossiter's scheming brais of a dreary, stormy night, nearly twenty years ago, when a slender girl, with great dark, pathetio eyes and streaming hair, all tangled and tossed, and wet from the storm without, stood before a stern old man and panted bitterly : " Do you understand me, Geoffrey Lawrence? My mother has a right to come to her childhood's berne ,-to die I" If so-if such1 unwelcome memories did i stray through tbe busy, plotting brain of this woman -she drove them quickly back and pushed them aside. All the harshness and defiance which years of cruel waiting for the love of ber life bed taught her grew into her beautiful, hard face now, as she answered, coldly:
" Your father I Ha I De yon imagine for an instant that if be w'ebed to acknowledge you as his child, he would not have done so long ago P He has known your whereabouts all these years, and yet has never taken a step toward claiming you P You cannot shall not-remain bera ; you must go ?"
The girl's eyes flashed,
" He is a bad cruel man," she panted, angrily," If -if that ii true ! But" (and the sudden fierce flame of anger died down as quickly as it had arisen) " I do not believe if. I have faith is him. He could not be so wicked as to hate me, his own child : I, who have never wronged him, and have always loved him and prayed for him. "Madam"-and she faced Essica bravely, a great light in her glorious eyes, a red spot coming and going on either pallid cheek -"I beg your pardon for doubting your assertion, but I do not believe that he-my father-has refused to acknowledge bis own child ! Ob, madam!"-(clasp- ing her two email bands beseechingly, and turning
imploring eyes upon the beautiful, hard-hearted woman before her)-" let me see him just a moment. He is my father, and I love him! Only let me stay here-his child-and I promise you to never trouble you in any way! I will be your servant, your maid, your seamstress-origins'-so that I can see my father sometimes, and know that he earea for me a little. For the love of Heaven, let me stay 1"
' She might as well have humbled herself to plead to the marble Niobe in the oorner of the red-and gold boudoir. Eseica's haughty eyes swept her pale, beseeching face with glow scorn kiadling ia their depths. And * brassy light flashed into the dark lustrous orbs-a light which bore the danger-signal
"Let you stay !" she hissed, malignantly. " No ten thousand times «al Before I would consent to that, I would murder you! St»y here-in my house -his house ?-never ! The same roof cannot shelter me and the child of Alicia Lawrence. Go ! There ia the door. I cmnot bear the sight of you I I cannot breathe freely in your presence ! Do you hear mef
With a wild cry of horror the poor girl sprang for-" ward directly into Ossica, path, and the great glistening tear-drops gathering' in her eyes over- flowed now and streamed down her pale cheeks. She lilted her clasped hands in piteous supplication.
" Ob, you cannot mean it !" the wailed, bitterly, ' trembling with terror unutterable; "remember, I am all alone-alone in this great city ; a stranger not used to your ways here. I know not where to go or which way to turn. I shall be utterly lost, for I am friendless, penniless, alone 1 I have no place to lay my head. For the love of Heaven, do not turn me out into the street to-night, in the dark and the storm I Oh, madam, madam, have a little mercy-a little pity-for a motherless girl I"
"I wish you were dead!" hissed Esaioa, madly, "I wish to heaven that you had died before ever you intruded here, to come between my love and me ! Better for you had you died in your infancy !-ay, much better ! Ns : you shall not stay here till morn- ing-I swear it ! You shall go, and at once !" ¡for she knew that with the morrow Guy would return from his fruitless search .for his child, and Tiny must not be under that roof when he arrived, or all would
So Kssica shut her heart agaiast the common promptings of humanity ; she steeled it against the pale, beseeching face, and the wild, agonized eyes, This girl was the only thing on earth that stood between Guy Rossiter*! whole heart and her own. The girl must go! If she found her way-poor homeless, ignorant child !-into the low haunts of vice and crime which infest the great city-well, no matter!-she would be out of Bisica's way, at least. And if she met her death upon the streets of the quaint old Crescent City-the death dealt out by the garroter or the thug-so much the better ! And a wild thrill of hope flashed into Essica's wicked heart;-a hope that Tiny Rossiter might never Bee the morning light.
There was a glass door in the red-and-gold bou- doir-a door which led out upon the great flower wreathed luwn at the side of the .house. With a cold, shaking hand, Bealca pushed it open, and motioned the girl to pass through.
Like some wild, hunted creature, the child stood gazing into the cruel face, and her eyes were full of an expression which Básica Rossiter never forgot they were destined to haunt her through all her future. Then, bowing ber golden head with quiet scorn, Tiny stepped ibrough the glass door, and it wai closed and locked behind her.
She passed down the broad white walk which led to the outer entrance of the spacious grounds-her father's house I-and she had been turned from its shelter into the street, a homeless.stranger, alone !
She knew not where to go, or which way to turn It was storming-a wild, gusty wind, with dashes of rain flying into her face ; the sky was gloomy and ovoicaet, and the stars had forgotten to shine,
Mechanically she turned in a direction farther up town. On-on she went, until, heart-sick, and faint, and weary, she tank down under the shelter of tbe portico of a magnificent residence, and closing her tired eyes, the little waif fell asleep.