|Chapter Title||A LOST GOVERNOR AND BRIDGEROOM.|
|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||For Cora's Sake|
CHIAPTER II.-A LOST GOVERNOR AND B"RIDEGROOM??'' ' Missing !' echoed old Aaron Rockharrt, drawing up his huge frame to- its fullest heiglht, anid staring with strung blahick eyes in a detiant and aggressive manner. ' Missing ! did you say, sir?' he repeated sternly. ' Yes, Mr. Rockharrt; ever since last night,' replied Judge Abbot, chairman of the com mittee, in much distress and anxiety. 'Impossible I Never heard of such a thing in the whole course of my life ! A bridegroom lost on the evening of his marriage ? A governor lost on the morning of his inauguration I I tell you, sir, it is impossible-utterly and entirely impossible ! How do you know, sir, that he has not been seen by someone or other since last night i How do you know that he cannot be found somewhere, this morning ?' ' All his household have failed to find him. Our messengers have been sent in every direction without discovering the slightest clue to is'--fate,' gloomily replied the judge. Mr. Rockharrt turned to the porter, who was still in attendance at the door, and demanded : ' Where is your mistress ?' The man, a negro, and an old family servant of the Rockharrts, replied : 'The young mnadam is in the back drawing room, sir; and if you please, sir, I think she w'ould be all the better for seeing the old madam.' ' Who is with her now I' shortly demanded Mr. Rockhtarrt, ignoring his servant's sug gestion, although Mrs. Rockharrt looked nervously anxious to follow it. ' There is no one with her, sir.'
' Alone I Alone I My granddaughter left alone on the morning ' after her narr'iagen -'wihat do you mean by thail I Where is your Imaster ? SShow me in to your mistress at once. I will get at the bottom of this mystery, or this villiany, as it is more likely to prove, befoto I am through with the matter. And if my granddaughter's husband is not to be founri hrfore the day is out, I will have all concerned in the plot arrested for conspiracy I' exclaimed Mr. Rlockhar-t, with that utter recklessness of assertion to which he was addicted in mnoments of excitement. The dismayed negro lowered his eyes and led the way. Aaron Rockharrl atlrodl on, followed by his timid and'terrified old wife, his stalwart sons, his mocking grandson, and thi meInhers of the committee. But the'old man, not liking such an escort, turned upon them, and said, with sarcastic politeness and dignity: SGeontlemen, permnit me. It is expedient, under existing circumstances, that T should Ilrst seo my granddaughter alono.' The members of the committee bowed with ofllnded dignity, and withdrew to the front of the hall. Meanwhile Aaron 1Rockharrt sent back the members of his own family, and strode solemnly into the drawing-room, which was half darkened by the closed wvindow shutters. . Now leanve the room, sir; shut the door nfter you, and stand on the outside to keep off all intrudors,' colnnutded l Mr. Rlockharrt to the servant who had admitted him. When the door was closed upon him, Aaron Roekharrt discerned his granddaughter, who sat in an easy chair in a dark dorner of the
back-drawing-room, which was divided' flriui the front by blue satin and white laco-portiers. IIer deadly pallid face gleamed out from the shadows in startling contrat t with her jet black hair, and the black dress which, against all precedent, she wore on this, the morning after her marriage. The old man of iron went up and stood before her, looking at her in silence for a few moments. 'Corona Rothsay,' he began sternly, ' what is the meaning of this unparalleled situation?' ' I-I-do not know.' 'You seem to take this desertion or this death very quietly.' 'What would be gained by taking it any other way ?' she murmured, though indeed she was not taking the situation quietly, but con trolling herself. ' How dare you say so to me ' severely demanded the old man, scarcely able to con trol his wrath, though at a loss to know against whom to direct it. ' You ask me a direct question. I give you a truthful answer.' 'Answer me truly 1' rudely exclaimed Aaron Rockhar-rt, giving way, in his blind egotism, to utter recklessness of assertion, to gross injustice and exaggeration. 'What have you done to him, Corona? Toll me that 1' She started violently and looked up quickly, her face whiter, her eyes wilder than before. 'What-have-you--done to him 4 ' he sternly repeated, looking her full in the deathly face. 'I? Nothing 1' she answered ; but her voice faltered and her frame shook.
' I believe that you havo I You loonk as if you had I I have seen the devil in you since we brought you homne from Europe against your will; especially within the last few days !' Having hurled upon her this avalanche of abuse, he strode wrathfully up and down the room until he had got ofl some of his excite ment. Then he caine and stood before his granddaughter. HIow long has your husband been missing ? he abruptly inquired. ' Since last night,' in a very low tone. 'When did you see him Inst ? Tell nme that I' 'I have already told you-last evening.' 'Tell me all thatl has occurred from the time you both left Rockhold to the time you entered this house which I placed at your disposal, and to which T sent you, to save you from the noise and bustle and excitement of a crowded hotel, and to give you rest and quiet and seclusion. Yes I and this is the result. But go on and tell me. From the time you loft Rlockhold to this time, mind you.' 'Very well, sir, I will tell you. Our journey, a series of ovations. Our reception in this city was a triumph. We mern met at the (depot by a great crowd, and by the colm mittee with carriages, and we were escorted to this house by a military and civil procession with a band of music. They left us at the gate. We entcred, and weore received by the servants As soon as I had changed my dress we went down to dinner. After dinner we went into the drawing room. A gentleman was announced on official business connected with the ceremonies of to-day. He was shown into the library and my husband wonb to him.
Many callers came.' They talked ? i 1 Mi'. -Rothsay:in"'the'library. I remainedrin·tthis room. At last the crowd began to thin off, and soon all were gono. Mr. Rothsay came into this room-and sat down by my side. We talked together for an hour or more. Then a card was brought in. Mr. Rothsay took it, looked at it, and said : ' T will see the gentleman. Show him into the front room.' ' Mr. Rothsay arose and went to the front room to receive his visitor. It was late, and 1 was very tired, so T went up stairs to my chamber and retired to bed. I have never seen my husband since.' And Corona dropped her face upon her hands and sobbed as if her heart would break. She had-utterly broken down for the first time. ' Good heavens I I don't understand it all I Had you had a lover's quarrel now in that hour when you talked together in this parlor 1' inquired the old gentleman, his insane anger being now merged in wonder. 'Had you reproached him for spending so much time with his political friends while you were waiting here alone ? ' ' Oh, no, no,' replied Corona, between her convulsive sobs. ' Good heavens i' again exclaimed the old man, ' When did you first miss him °' 'When I came down in the morning. 1 then thought that he had been kept up all night by his'friends, and that I should meet him at breakfast. The servants searched for him all over the house, but could not find him. I waited breakfast until I was faint.with fasting and suspense. Then I took a cup of coffee. On inquiry it was found that Jasper had been the last to see him since he showed the visitor
in. HOI did nob show tho visitor out. He waited some time to do so, and fell asleep. When he awoke the visitor had gone, and'the drawing rooms were empty. The man sup. posed that Mr. Bothsay had seen his friend to the door, and then retired to bed. And so he shut up the house and went to his room. No one had discovered that Mr. Rothsay: was missing until this morning. When the inaugural committee came two hours ago, the servants told them all that I have just told you,' 'Who was the last visitor! He might throw some light upon this dark, evil subjeot. Who was he o' abruptly demanded Aaron Rockharrt ' I do not know. No one seems to know. Jasper stays he never saw him before, nor ever heard his name.' 'Couldn'6 he see iu on his card l' 'Jasper c'nnot read, you must remember.' ' Where is that card 1 Let mo see it I' ' It cannot be found.' ' Conspiracy I Treason I Murder l' inter rupted Aaron Rockharrt. 'The governor elect has been decoyed away from the, house by that last caller, and has been murdered I And the people in the house may not be as innocent or ignorant as they pretend to be. I will go out and take counsel with the com mitten,' ho said, and he turned and strode out of the drawing room. WIhen he reached the hall, however, he found that the officials had gone to pursue their search for the missing man elsewhere. 'rhe mnn of his own party were nowhere to be seen. The porter, Jasper, was' the only ocoupant of the hall, and Aaron Rookharrb opened the hall door and walked out. The
rmilitary-and civil escort were on parade before theshousi- waitingfor tlregovernorelect.. Mr. Rockharrt's carriage was standing before the door. He entered it and ordered the coachman to drive to police headquarters. The hour for the inauguration of the new governor was approaching. The procession to the State House should have been in motion by this time. The people were beginning to be weary of waiting. The ofli.ials who had the ceremonies of the occasion in hand' waited until three o'clock in the afternoon, and then, as the governor-elect was nowhere to be found, as the necessity was imminent, the inaugural procession was ordered to begin its march. 'Where is he Where is Rothsay 4' de manded ,the spectaLtors one of the other. No one knoew. No one had seen him. No one could therefore answer. When the procession reached the State house, the lieutenant-governor, Kennelm Ken nedy was sworn in, and the military compaqies and the civic societies and the spectators all dispersed. (To be continued in our next.)