Chapter 18938316

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Chapter NumberPART II. IV
Chapter TitleAT THE FATHER'S HOUSE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18938316
Full Date1884-10-18
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2246
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleLove and Passion
article text

FICTION.

(Vroio ICngUata, Amarlcno« and «Ibcr Perlodl«al*>

LOVE AND PASSION.

v*°~ PART M.

CHAPTER IV.

at beb fathbb's housb.

In the grave light of the drear December dawn a elim little figure, in deep mourning-garments, .stood upon the platform at a small way station ?ome sixty miles above New Orleans. A chill, gloomy morning-a chill, gloomy prospsct, surely. In tbe east, a faint streak of pale pink showed which way the sun was coming in its onward march ; but there was un uncomfortable chill in the air, aa.d a little fine mist was beginning lo fall-penetrating with its cold breath to the very bone. Then, a shrill wind arose, as though started suddenly from ita covert, and rushed around tbe corners, tearing find rending every obstruction in its way, until at last the mist ceased to fall and the morning grew on

space.

Little Tiny stood grasping her hand-bag with nervous trepidation, glancing from left to right, with timid eagerness. For the first time in the «eventeen years of her life she etood alone, and fronted the cold, heartless world, uncared for. She was starting upon her mission, this chill December norning ; to find her father waa the sole object be- fore her. She anticipated no difficulty, for she bad her mother's letter in her possession; it bore the address o! Guy Rossiter, No. - St. Charlea avenue.

The train came tearing down the track at last, like some huge black monster on a voyage of de- struction, The blood fled from Tioy's cheeks, and Lereyea dilated wildly at the thought of starting forth alone. Her ticket was already purchased, and, SB tbe train carne to a stand-still, one of the officials At tbe station good-naturedly offered to place her eafely on board; an offer which she thankfully, accepted ; and soon, comfortably seated, Tiny Roe al- ter was being rapidly borne towards New Orleans,

Adrift! Alone!

Sitting absorbed in her own ead meditations, Tiny became suddenly aware of the earnest gaze of a pair of eyes-deep, dark gray, and beautiful. Their owner wes a young man of five-and-twenty, per- haps; straight, slender, aristocratic in appearance, with the-very handsomest face that Tiny bad ever Been, He sat, studying the childish face before him with the most icteose interest. Not rudely, or im- pertinently ; but simply because be could not help it. All at once Tiny turned her eyes-pansy blue, "the sweetest eyeB that e'er were seen"-and,for the first 'time, their gaze met. The young man's face flushed slightly, while Tiny, overwhelmed with con- fusion, tamed toward the window, and her eyes devoured the strange, new scenes without, as the train wen: flying by in the dull gray light of the

early morning.

Somehow, Tiny could never understand how the arrangement was effected, before they had travelled many miles, the young man bad taken a seat nearer hers, and they entered into pleasant conversation. Ingenuous child that she was, poor Tiny had'no idea that she was shocking the proprieties, and giving Mrs. Grundy room for comment. And, as the train sped on, tbey talked of books, and music, and na- ture, Upon these subjects shy little Tiny was quite at home, though she did not know a word of fash- ionable small-talk ; was in utter ignorance of the latest fashions, and gossip and slander were to ber ob s sealed book. After a time she quite forgot to ba timid, Her eyes dilated with eager delight: an ex- pression of intense interest dawned upon her lovely face; she was quite wrapped up in the subjects whioh tbey were diecusBing.

And the train moved on ; and none on board dreamed of the dark cloud hanging over them ; the sword which was fated to descend, and cut oil so mach of lite ana hope. They were nearing the Manchee Pass now-the dark, gloomy swamp, with ile palmetto fringe», and moss-drnped oaks; the <Jbbp, treacherous, fathomless pass below.

Here and there, a shabby little hut, standing knee deep in water; and the only visible means of trans- portation the long, slender pirogue, or dugout, in which the few straggling inhabitants made their devionB journeys to and fro.

The scene was new to Tiny, and fall of wondroas interest, es the long train dashed upon the bridge which spanned the past?* On it flew ; there came a _u*dden rushing and roariog, like the roaring of many waters. Those on board the train that fatal December morning that escaped alive, will never forget the scene ; there came a crash, like the meet inp of two ponderous bodies, and then -then the news flashed over the telegraph wires :

"Terrible accident I Collision upon Manchee Bridge 1 Fearful lois of life !"

It was an unparalleled occurrence ; no possible ex- cuso tor it, only ''somebody blundered."

Tbey were strugeling in the cold, black water, a hundred or more human beings with the debris of the wreck strewn all about them. There were prayers and groans, shrieks, and curses, and exe- crations rising upon the silence of that dreary place.

In the midst of the tumult, a young man in a gray tweed suit managed with much ingenuity to disen- gage himself from the fragments of the wreck which incumbered him, and swam straight toward a cer- tain spot where« in the midst of the horrible sur foundings, his quick glance had seen a golden bead disappear under the cold, black water.

Five minutes later be was swimming toward chore with the strength and madness bom of de- spair, clasping close to his breast the girlish form of poer, half dead Tiny. He had saved her at his own peril, and from that bora he felt that her life be

Jonged to him.

But few others of tbe passengers were rescued, and news went back to the green old pine woods-bick to the few who cared to know her story, that Tiny Rossiter had met her fate under the cold, black waters of the Manchee Pase.

A few tears war« dropped for the sweet, pure girl life so suddenly extinguished. Old Aunt Hannah, the faithful negro servant, wept and wailed, and re- fused to be comforted. Then she took to singing " glorias ;" and convened a meeting of the faithful to pray for the repose of Tiny's soul ; while the kind, though rough and illiterate, woman who bad helped attend the girl in her sickness, carried a wreath of white chrysanthemums and laid it upon Alicia's grave, in memory ot the girl whose body would never rest there. They firmly believed her to ba dead ; and old Aunt Hannah persisted in declaring that she eaw Tiny's spirit every night; that it " walked" in the great shadowy pine woods down by the river's edge.

And so, when, one clear, crisp winter day, Guy Rossiter, after a stormy interview with Essie», who denied all knowledge of his child's existence, ap- peared at the old weather-stained house beBide the river and in a trembling voice, eeked for the daughter whom he had come to claim at last, they told bim all the ead story, believing it to be the

truth.

He went down to Alicia's grave, and remained there until sunset. What passed there bo one knew,

no one will ever know.

In the meantime, at one of the little water-sur rounded cabins at Manchac, Tiny came back to con- sciousness. The rough fishermen did all in their power for her comfort. Her clothes were dried, she

__",. ~...~-¿ ~_.4 r~-».-* r-*r»V «».wa <ui , ttua

when at last the evening train came by, she was able to continue her journey.

Paul Gower accompanied h "r- that waa his nama, Pani Gowsr-and, from his conversation, Tiny gath- ered that be was a poor author, struggling along, dependent upon his pen. He had written a book, and was a contributor to several well known journals, To the unsophisticated country girl, who had never before met a real, live author face to face, it wai as though he had been Jove, come down from Olympus. Very clever, witty, and entertaining, like no one whom Tiny had ever met before, she listened as ona spell-bound, and for the first time in her life, in the presence of another man, sue forgot Gordon ^Carroll.

And at last the train steamed into the great, dark, cheerless depot at New Orleans, sad a few moments later, seated in a carriage with Mr, Gower, Tiny was being whirled rapidly away up town, Innocent and trusting, guileless and child-like, the thought that she was doing anything unusual never entered her mind, She was Una among the lions, and her very icnocence was a triple shield.

It was well for Tiny that ehe had fallen into the hands of a man like Paul Gower-a man who would have diad sooner than betray the trust, and to whom this girl, thrown so strangely upon bis protection, was a sacred care. Knowing her utter ignorance of the city, and full of consternation at the thought of what might befall her, he had determined to see her safely to her destination, and had ordered the carriage to be

driven to Ko,-St. Charles Avenue.

A stately mansion, ablaze with light, was Gay Ros- siter^ New Orleans horne, as fair in its way as Lawrence Park itself. Tiny shrank back in alarm from the tall, palatial building looming up before her, all glittering with light from basement to attic.

Gower ran up the marble steps and rang the bell. There were guests at the Rossiter mansion, and the sound of music, and gay laughter, and sweet voices, floated out upon the silence of the night. A tall, liveried footman appeared, and having consigned Tiny to his charge, Paul Gower touched bis hat in a cour- teous farewell, and with a promise ofseeing her soon ran down the steps and entored his waiting carriage'

Once, after he had been driven a block or two, the thought occurred to the young man that perhaps he had been too precipitate ; that it would have been wiser to have waited to witness Tiny's reception. But the girl had confided her simple story to bim, and a Guy Rossiter was her father and that was the Rossiter residence, Paul decided that all must be right. So, with an inward prayer for the girl's happiness and welfare, he dismissed the subject from his mind.

Pale and trembling, little Tiny stood in the broad hall-way which ran through the centre of her father's house, all lined with odorous flowers and blossoming shrubs.

" Can I see Mr. Rossiter ?" she faltered, timidly shrinking visibly from the cool, critical gaze of the gentleman in livery.

" Not to-night," the man replied, briskly. " lou see, miss,be ain't home. He has gone out of town on business ; will be home to-morrow."

Something came into Tiny's throat and choked her. She forced down the storm of sobs which was rapidly overcoming her frail strength, and turned away hopelessly, though with a pitiful attempt at

courage.

The man hesitated ; perhaps his heart was touched a little at sight of the pale, pathetic face.

" Wouldn't the madam do as well P'' he asked. Tiny turned quickly.

" Whom ?" she said, sharply.

"The madam-Mrs. Rossiter, of course," he ex- plained.

The rich color flashed into Tiny's cheeks and theu receded. She-grew faint and weak; her limbs trembled. She put forth both little hands, like one groping in the dark, and her voice sounded strangely in her own ears, as she faltered :

"Mrs. Rossiter! Is he-is Mr. Guy Rossiter a

married man ?"

The footman covered his mouth with one huge hand, and winked slyly at one ot the maids who was loitering near.

" Yes, my dear," he answered, familiarly ; " least- wise, he's baen married for the last eight weeks or thereabouts ; and-there comes madam now."

Tiny glanced up with a start, her heart palpitat- ing wildly with a nervous tremor. Down the long hall-way, regal in crimson velvet and blazing dia- monds, came Essica-oh 1 so beautiful, that as Tiny turned her dazed, bewildered eyes upon tbo perfect face, sho caught her breath with a gasp of wonder which was almost pain.

So this was Guy Rossiters second wife, this peer- less creature coming with languid grace toward her. She had usurped her mother's place; sha reigned mistress of a palace, and was elad in velvet glisten- ing with jewels; while Alicia, outcast and alien, had known but a.cabin horne, and bad closed her eyes forever beneath its humble roof, and lay sleeping now, in the gray shadows of the lonesome pine woods-forgotten.

Tiny caught her breath again with a gasp of agony end then, with graceful dignity, confronted Essica.

" I was told that you wished to see me, my good girl," began the mistress of the house, with that

| suave way that she always assumed in the presence

of inferiors. "Tell me what you wish. Good Heaven !" she wailed, as her eyes fell full npon Tiny's white little face.

The words died upon her lips. She grew pallid, ghastly white ; ker eyes fairly blazed. She clutched

wildly at the caryen back of a Gothic chair standing j

near, and gaeped, in broken accents: I

"Alicia Lawrence, come bach from the grave to j

confront mel" J