|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||For Cora's Sake|
lie CStortly r. FOR CORA'S SAKE= CHAPTEIt rv.-(Continued). 'Fabe l is that you l' 'Yes. Is all quiet 4' 'Yes; and has been so for hours. Come in. Fass around, feeling by the wall until you reach the sofa. If you attempt to cross the room, you may strike a chair or table and make a noise as 1 did.' The unseen man cautiously crept around by the wall, feeling his way, but occasionally striking and jarring a picture frame or looking glass as he passed, and muttering goodnatured little growls of deprecation, and finally making the sofa creak as he struck and sat heavily down upon it. Cora was wide awake now, and quite cogni zant of the identity of the invisible persons in the room as that of Mr. Fabian Rockharrt and Mrs. Rose Stillwater. It did not once occur to the girl that she was doing any wrong in remaining there, in the parlour common to the whole party. Surprise and wonder held her spellbound in her obscure seat. The sofa on which they sat was between the two windows. She reclined in the easy chair in the corner between the right-hand window and the door of her room. She wits so near them that she might have touched the sofa with her hand. Without dreaming of harm, she overheard their conversation. Mr. Fabian was the first to speak. ' I say, Rose,' he began, ' I have a deuce of a hard time td get a tote a-tete with you. This is the first we have had for two months.' ' And we could not have had this but for the accidentaf arrangement of these convenieit rooms,' she whispered. Exactly. We moust- arrange for future plans to-night. I understantl that the old folks have been trying to persuade you to return homni with us l' 'Yes; but, of course, I shall not go.' ' Of course not; but how (did you get out of it 4' Oh, by raising the old gentleman.' Do.you mean the-the-the-de-' 'Cortainly not. I mean my husband, the gallant Captain Stillwater, of the East India man, Queen of Sheba, who has been spoken within three day's sail of port and is expected hero every hour. So that, you see, I must remain here to welcome my husband. It is my sacred duty,' sairtlthe woman demurely. Ha-ha-ha I' laughed Mr. Fabian, in a lo w half-suppressed chuckle. Hush I Oh, be careful 1 You will be heard I ' mrurmured Rose Stillwater, in a frightened w hisper. ' What I at this hour 4 Why, everybody in this suite is in his or her deepest sleep. I say Rosebud. ' What Z' ' His Majesty the King of the Cumberland Mines has been in a demoniac humour ever since le learned that you were not coming home with us.' ' I know it, and I am very sorry for it, especially oh his family's account, but I could not help itŽ. ' Certainly not. It would have been in convenient and embarrassing. Look here, Rosalie.' 'Well?' If the aged monarch was not such a perfect dragon of truth, honesty and fidelity and nil the cast-iron virtues, I should think that he was over head and ears in love with you. Nonsente, Fabian I Mr. Rockharrt is olrl enough to be my griandfather.' If hoe were old enough to be your great grandlfatlhr, it need make no difference in that respect, my dear. Thu fires of Mt. Hecla burn beneath eternal snows.' ' Whatl rubbish you are talking, 'Fabian I But-to- change the subject-when- will tay house be re'ady 4 I warn you that I will not go back to that brick block on Main Street in your State capital.' ' You should not, Rosabella.* Your home is finished and furnished ; and a lovelier bower of roses cannot be found out of paradise I It is simply perfection, or it will be when you take possession of it.! ' Yes ; tell-mo all about it.' It is a Small, elegant villa, situated in the midst of beautiful grounds in a small, sequestered dell, enclosed with wooded hills rising hackwitrd intoforest-crowned mountains, and watered by many little springs rising among the rocks and running down to empty into a miniature lake that lies shining before the house. It seems to be in the heart of the Cumberlands, in the depth of solitude, yet it is not fifteen miinute's walk by a forest footpath to the railway station at North End.' SWhat shall we name this little Eden 1' ' Rose lBower, and the locality Rose Valley.' ' And wheun may I talde possession '' ' Wheneiker you please. All is prepamed and awaiting the ai'-riml of Mrs. Stillwatet-, who has taken the house and engaged the servants through Ihe' agent, and who is cx *pected to i-eside there during the absence of * her husband, COmptain Still water, on long voyages. 1-How lbng are these falso appearancos to be kept tip and when are our true relations to he announced I'
I hate this concealment 1 T know that I am a favourite with your father and niother, so I cannot see why you have not told them and will not tell them.' ' Now, Rosamu'sln, don't be a little idiot. .Be a little angel, as you always have 1)0n. Am I not doing everything I can for your comfort and happiness, only asking you in turn to he faithful snai pntient until I can make you nay wife before thaa whole world ? My father does not like the idles of my marrying-mnysody. If he knew we were engaged to each other, ha woula never forgive me, and that means he would cut me offa from all share in the patrimony. And we could not allbrd to lose that. Lnt wee toll you a secret, Rose. Thought our firm loas business under the name " Rorckharrt & Sons,"a yet " Sons " have a merely nominal interest in the works while Rockharrt livens. So you see I have voa'v little of my own, and if the autocrat shauld learn, even by oaur own con fesnion, trlit we had Ienn-been-been-con cealing oar eagns'asarmnt from him, he would never forgive actiie' of asn.' At this moment a step was heard passing along the corridor outside. It caused the two unseen inmates of the parlour to shrink into silence, and when it had passed out of hearing it caused them, in renewing their conversation, to speak only in
the lowest, tones, so - that Cora could no longer catch a word of their speech. - She would befose this have risen aid retired to her own ri ;.44 but she was afraid of meking a noise, and consequently causing a scene. Were those two, her Unclo Fabian and Mrs. Stillwater. only secretly engaged? 8ecretly engaged 7 But whoever heard of a betrothed lover providing a home for his betrothed I ride to live in before tilrriage? And then, again, was her Uncle Fabian. really so dependent on his father as he had re presented to Rose? Cour had always under stood that lie had a quarter share in the great business, and that Clarence had an eighth. And, worse than all, had they been so deceived as to the condition of Rose that, if she was Mirs. Stillwater at all, shie was the widow and not the wife of Captain Still water, since she was -englged to le narried, if not already married, to 11r. Fabian Rockharrt 7 Altogether the aflisir seemed a blinding and confusing tissue of falsehood and deception that amazed and repulsed the mind of the girl. Bewildered by the mystery, lulled by the hum of voices whose words she could not dis tinguish, fanned by the breeie from the harbour, and calmed by the darkness, the wearied gil sank back into her resting chair, closed her eyes, and lost tho sequence of her thoughts in dreams-from which she presently sank into dreaouless sleep, which insted until she was awakened by the noise of the hostel survants moving about on their morning duties, opening windows, rapping at doors to call up travellers for early trains, dragging along trunks. and so on.
At breakfast Cora watched I r. attbianl and Rnose, because she could tiot help doing so, and she certainly discovered signs of a secret understanding between tham-signs so slight that they would have been unnoticed by any one who had not the key to the mystery. But how sickening and depressing was all this I Rose Flowers. or Stillwater, or Rock harrt-whichover onmo she could legally clnitn-was a fraud. Mir. Faihian Uockharrt wes another fraud.. Those two were secretly engaged or secretly married. After breakfast the party wero ready for their journey. Then came the leave-taking. Every one, except Cor. H[aulgiht, shook handls weremly with I os) Stillwater. J'.irs. iickharrt elmbrncoll and kissed her fondly, and ren owed 1011 pressed her invitation to the b1(uty to co)m1 a1. (nake it long visit. lllse put her 1 mos nround the old iloiy's neck and .d clung to her, and, with tellrful eyes andl trellbling tones and loving words, nssured her thata shle would fly to 1Rockhold on ot t~he Iirst plla'iill opportunity, ned, aftog evilly enrLIossets, she refluetnutly turned away aint(! wont toward Uaome. The girl had lowered her blue vlil, hnd tied it mansklike over her face, in a \vfly that. women often do, but which Cora never did, except on this ot'1asion, when sh1e wisher] to ovaIlo the sure tIt be offered kiss. Dub Rose emlbr l'ed hler strongly and even ktisoed her throtugll the veil, endeartnr'nts which the young lady could not repel without attracting attent'ln, but which sho only enl dueld and did not return. The pare'y reached Rockihold lon tho evening of the secutol day's travel.
Old Aaron .Rockharrt founa _hitn . I s weary of travelling that ho anniion.- I ii intention of remaining in Rockholi for the entire winter, nor leaving, it even to go to his town house for +t few weeks during-the session of the legislature. Cor. we's disappointed. She hinged to go to WVashingtou for the season-to go into company, to go to balls and parties, concerts and operas, to see new people and make new friends, perhaps to attract new admirers; aind as she was nineteen years of ago she need not te too severely criticised for such a natural aspiration. Mr. Fabian c/as the most zealous and active member of the firm. He would go to North End and stay two days at a time to be near his scene of duty, Time passed, but Rose Stillwater did not imike her promised visit. Old Aaron often referred to it, and worried 1 his wife to write to her, and remind her of her promise. The old lady always complied with her husband's requirements, and wroto pressing letters ; but the beauty always wrote back excusing herself on the ground of the captain's many engagements, which confined him to the ship, and her to his side. So time passed, and nearly another year went by. The Rockhlirrts were still living at Rock hold. A political crisis was at hand-the election for i he State ligislit tre: The candiilate for representative of the liberal party in that election district was Regulas Rothsny. The election (lay caine at length, as anxious a day for Cora Haught as for anyone.
It was a grand surcees, a glorious triumph for the printer buy and for the workingmein's cause its well. Rulae flothsay was elected representative for his district in the State legislature by an overwthehtning mnjurity. Coia was destined to a joyful surprise the next nmorning, when the iloinestij autocrat siddenly announced ' T shall take the family to my town house on the first of next week. My last ilill, which was defeated last year, may be passed this sessioni.' Corn now, on the Trishman's principle of pulling the pig backward if you want him to go forward, ventured on theI assu 'ante of counselling her grandfather by saying i I would not approach Mr. ltotlisay on the subject of this hill, if I were you, sir.' ' Lut you are not T, miss I ' exclaimed the old mitn opening his eyes to stare her down. I And the now man is the very one to whom I shall. first speak. H- is the most proper person to present the hill. He represents miiy own district. His election is largely due to the nmn in moy own iemploy. 1 aiu surprised that you should presume to eahviso upon matters of which you can know nothing; a httever.' CoGa h owd to the rebuke, but till not mind it in the least, since now she felt sure, of meoting ilule ]tothsny in town. On the following Monday the Rocklnrrt's went to town. Mr. 1tockhart inet and compared notes with some of the lobbyists. One veteran lobbyist gave him what lie callod the key to the riddle of success.
' Y:.u ippealed to reason and conscience I' said zne. 'My dear sir, you should have appealed to their stomachs and pockets. You should have given themt epicurean feasts, and put money into your ' purse ' to be transferred to theirs1' ' Bribery and corruption ! I would lose my bill for ever I And I would see legislature e.cterminated, before I would pay one cent to get a vote,' said the Tron King. And he used a much stronger as well as much shorter word than the -one underscored ; but lot it pays. As soon as the noirning papers announced -Zm.ong other arrivais-that the new assem blyman, the Hon. Regulas Rothsay, Aaron Rockharrt sought out the young legislator, and explinerl that he wished to get a charter for a railtnald that he wished to build. The company all responsible men - had been incorport, r some time, but he had never 1 succeeiled in getting a charter from the legislature. Rule saw that the enterprise would be a beneiti to the community at large, and especi ally to the working-men, the farmers, shop keepers and mechanics; so when he had heard all' that the old Iron King had to say on the subject, he promptly gave a promise which neither favour, affection, nor self interest could have won from him, but which reason, con science, and public good constrained him to give-namely, to present the petition for the charter to tho asseozbly, rind to support it with all his might. After this Regulas Rothsay came often and more often, until at length he passed every evening with the Rockharrts when they were at home: 'Old Aaron Rockharrt esteemed
him as he estcemed very, very few of his fellow creatures. Mrs. Rockharrt really loved aim. Corn admired and honoured him. He was made so welcome in the family circle that he felt himself quite at home among them. On the second of January the first business taken up was that of the bill to charter the projected railroad. Tt was presented by Mr. Rothsay, and referred to the proper committee. The charter bill was reported with certain amondments, sent back again and reported again, with modified amendments, laid on the table, taken up and generally tormented for ten days, and then passed by a small majority. Rule had conscientiously done his best, and this was the *result: Old Aaron Rockharrt thanked him stiffly. You have worked it through, sir I No one but yourself could have done it. And it is a wonder that even you could do so with such a set of pig-headed rascals as our assemhlynmen. And now, will it pass the senate l' ' T helinvo it will, Mr. Rockharrt. I have been speaking to many of the senators, and tied them well disposed toward it,' said Rule. To hn brief, the hill was soon taken up by the seatt' : and after much the same treat ten n it had tecr'ived in the assembly, it came mfdely thtough the ordeal, and was passed agaii by a small majority. Old .baron Roekltarrt was triumphant, in his sullen, dogged and undemonstrative way. But having gained his ends, for which alone lie had come to the city, lie ordered his family to pick tip and be ready to leave town for Rockhold the next day but one. But the worst was to como.
When all the household were assemnblud at 1 lul.henn he she: the last holt. ' N w l1ik he, e, all of you. We are ! .r to R. khold to-mrurrow. I do not wiho tco have nny company there. I am tired of c-m pany. I hate company ! I am going to the country to get rid of company. - So see that you do not, any of you, invite anyone to visit us., The next morning the Rockharrt family left town for North End, where they arrived early in the afternoon. A monotonous season followed, at least for the two ladies, who led a very secluded life at the dreary old stone house on the mountain side. - Winter, spring, summer and autumn crept slowly away in the lonely dwelling. In the last clays of November he announced to his family, with the usual suddenness of his per emptory will, that lie should go to Washing ton City for the winter. Regulas called frequently, and his atten tions to Cora were marked. (To be continued in our next.)