|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||For Cora's Sake|
FOR CORA'S SAKE, CHAPTER XXII.-(Continued.) ' How could I? I was but half taught. The Warrens would have had me teach their children French and German, arid music on the harp and the piano. I knew no language but my own, and no music except that of the 1 piano, which the dear, gentle- lady, your mother. taught me out of the kindness of her heart. T was told that r must leave at the end of the termi. And my term was nearly out when Captain Stillwater became a daily visitor to the house, and I saw him I every evening. He was a tall, handsome man, with a dark complexion and black hair and beard. - I.always did admire that sort of a man. Indeed, that was the reason why I always admnired you.' ' Don't ritteinpte .to flatter me.' SI am not flattering anybody. T am tell ing you why I liked Captain Stillwater. And he was always so good to ibe! 1 told him all my troubles. And he sympathised with nio! And when T told himi that T should be obligedl to leave moy situatr ion at the end of the qnarter, he bade Ire never milind. And he asked wai to be his wife. I did con sent to be his wife. I was glad of the chancoe * to get a husband and a homen. So all was arranged. He advised me not to toll the *Warrens that we were tobe married however, so at the end of my quarter I went away to a hotel, where Captain Stillwater came for me and took me away to the church where we were married.' 'You had noknowledge that Alfred Whyte was dead, and that you were free to wed !' ' He had been lost seven years and was itas good as dead to me ! Besides, when a man is missine and has not been heard of for seven years, his wife is free to mrarry again, is she not ?' ' No, She has good grounds for a divorce --that is all! To risk a- second marriage without these legal formalities, would be dangerous ! Might he disastrousl The first husband might turn up and iake trouble I' '1 did not know that. But,. after all, it did not matter,' sighed Rose. ' Not in the least,' assented Mr. Fabian, . amiably. 'After all, it was not my fault. I married him in good faith ; I did, indeed.' ' Did you tell him of your previous marriage ' "N-n-no ; I was afraid if I did he might break off with me.' 'Ah I' ' And I. was in such extremity for the want of a home.' 'Had not my father and mother told you that if ever you should find yourself out of a situation, you should iome to theem ? Why dirl you not t.nlk tlr'hem at their wrd ? N.ow why need yoru have rush,:rl int,, a reckless mairringe for it hiorne?' ' Oh, Fabian I' she exclaimned impatiently, ' don't pretend to talk like an idiot, for you are not one. Don't talk to me as if I were a wax doll or a wooden woman, for you know I am not one.' 'I ant sure I do not know what you mean.' 'Well, then, I loved the man i There, it is out I I loved him rinore than I loved any orln else in the whole world. - And I was afraid of losing himt.' 'And so -it was because you loved- him so well that you deceived him so much.' 'Didi't he deceive me much more I 'There were a pair of you --well nrictllel. So well, it seems ai pity that you were parted.' ' Oh, how very unkind you are to me I' 'Not yet unkind. Only waiting to see how you are going to behlave.' 'I have never behaved badly. I was not wicked; I was unhappy. Unhappy from my birth, almost! 1 had no evil designs against anyhody. I only wanted to be happy and to see people habppy. I honestly belivered I was lawfully married to Captain Stillwater'. He took nce to tlhe Wirt House and 'irgistered our names ras r. and Mrs. Stillivrater. And we were very happy until his ship sailed. He gave me plenty of monley before he went away; but I was heartbroken to part with him, and could take no pleasure in anything until[ I got a little used to his absence.' ' I think you told nme that you met him once more before your final separatioi ?' Fabian Rockharrt, are you trying to catch me in' a falsehood ? You know very well that I never told you anything of the sort. I told you that I never saw him again after lie sailed away that autumn day. T waited tall tIhe autunll and leairld Inothing frrom hinm. I wrote to him often, but none of my lottr's were answered. At length I longed so rrmuch to see him that I grew wild and reckless anti resolved to follow him. I took passage in the secoid calin o(f the Africa and sailed for' Liverpool, where I arrived ahnout tile middlle of December. I went to tIhe agency to wlhic his shlip belo-ngedr, and was told that lie had sailed for Caklutta and lhad taken his wife with him I It' turned inn to str)lie--to stone, Fatlian-ahnlrstl I I ie member I sat downv on a bench and felt anunb aind cold. Andl thali I asked how lorne
he had been married - hoping, if it was true, that my own 'was the first and the lawful union. They told me, for ten years, but as they had no family, his wife usually ancom panied him on all his voyages. So she had now gone with him to Calcutta.' 'So after that you camo Iback to Now York, and did at last what you shoulld hive ,lne a t first-you wrote to me.' ' There was no ono on ir'th to whom, underi the peculiar circumstances, I could have written but to you.' ' And did I not respond promptly to your call 1' ' Indeed you did, like at true knight, as you were. And I did not deceive you by any false story, Fabian. I told you all- everythlng--howv basely I had been deceived -and you soothed and consoled me, and -told me that as I had not sinned intention ally, I had not sinned at all ; and you brought me with you to the State capital, and established me comfortably there.' ' Jut youtwere very ungrateful, my dear. You took everything; gave nothing.' ' I would have given you all I possessed Son the world--my own poor self in marriage <--r you led me on to believe tlhat you w t h u.-to' mntrry me; but finally youwould not har me. You went off and married another womb.,
' Bah ! we are talking around in a circle, and getting hack to where we began. Let us come to the point. It is not for your reckless elopement with your step-father'b pupil, when you were driven from home by cruelty ; it is not for your false marriage with Stillwater, when you yourself were deceived ; but because, with all these ante cedents against you-antecedents which con stituted you, however unjustly, a pariah, who should have lived quietly and obscurely, but who instead took advantage of kindness 1shown her, and betrayed the family who sheltered her by luring into a disgraceful marriage its revered father, and bringing to deep dishononr the gray head of Aaron Rockharrt, a man of stern integrity and unblemished reputation - you should be 1 denounced and punished.' ' Oh, Fabian, have mercy! have mercy! You would not now, after years of friendship, ruin me ' ' Listen to me. You checkmated me in that matter of the cottage and income. Yes, simple as you seem, and sharp as I may appear, you certainly managed to take all and give nothing. And when you found out that you could not take my hand and my name, you waylaid me at the railway station when r was on my wedding tour, and you swore to he revenged. T laughed at you. I advisedl you to be anything rather than dramatic. I never imagined the possi hility of your threatened revenge taking the form of your marriage. Well, my dear, you have your revenge, I admit ; but in your blindness you could not see that revenge itself might be met by retribution I ' ' You are a fiend to talk to me so I a fiend!
Fabian Itockh,.rrt,' exclaimed rose, burs ting into hlystorical subs and tetrs. SNow, bne quiet, my child ; you'll raise the house, and tleii tllere will hI an explosion.' ' dor:'t care if there will Ib.. -LYou are cruel, savage, barbarous I1 never mll(!anti to do any hlarm by malrrying lMr. ltooklnhart. I unever meant to be revenged on you or anybody. I only said so because I was so excited by your desortion of me. I ,married the old gentleman for It refuge from the world. I meant to do my duty by him, though he is as cross as a hoear with a bruised head. Bult do your worst; T don't CarlO. I would just ao lief die is live. "T mll tired of trying to be gool, tired of trying to please people; tired, oh, very tired of living I ' SCollme, come,' sari the soft hearted Mir. F'abian ; 'none of that nonlseonse. Plnco yourself in iny hands, to be guided by me ntnd to work for my interests, tand none of these evils shall happen to you. You shall live and dic in wealth and luxury, my father's honoured wife, and mistress of Bock hohl.' ' Whlat is it you wanti mo to do for you 7 What can I do for for youi, indeed, powerless as I anm 7' she inquired at last, 'You must use all your influence with my father in my interests, and use it discretely, perr;iveringly,' lie whispered. ' But T haIe no influence. Never was the young wife of an old man--nd I am young in comparison to him-treated so harshly. I anm not his pot; I am his slave,' she com plained 'But you must obtain influence over him. You can do that. You are with him night and day when he is not at his business.
You are his shadow-beg prdon, I ought to have said his sunshine.' ' I am his slave, T tell you.' ' Then he his humble, submissive, obedient slave; betray no disappointment, discontent or impatience at your lot. The harsher he is, the humbler must you be; the more despotic he becomes, the more subservient you must seem. Make yourself so perfectly complying in all his moods that he shall believe you to be the very" perfect rose of womanhood," more excellent even than he thought when he married you, and so as he grows older and weaker in mind as well as body you will gain not only influence but ascendency over him, and these you must use in my interest.' But how 1 I don't understand.' 'Pay attention then. \Mr. Rockharrt is aged. In the course of nature he must soon pass away. He has made no will. Should he die intestate, the whole property, by the laws of this commonwealth, would fall to pieces ; that is to say, it would he divided into three parts-one third would go to you-.' Rose started, greed of gain dilating her great blue eyes. 'As T said the estate would break--one part would Ie yours, the other two parts would Ie divided into three shares, to me, to my brother, and to the heirs of my sister. The business at. North End would probably be carried on by Aaron Rockharrt's sons.' ' But would not that be equi'rtble i' asked Rose, who had no mildel to have her third interfered with. ' It would not be expedient to divide the V,orks between me and Olarence. The
North End Works must not Ibe a monster with two heads, lbut a colossus with one head-with my head. So that I wish my father to miake a will leaiving the North End Worrks to me exclusively-to me alone, Las the one head. , The North End Works to be left to you solely ; Clar?nce to Io umoderately provided for ; and what; of the children of the late Mrs. Vaught ? ' . Oh, my father never intends to leave them more than a modest legacy. Under stand me once for all, Rose. must Ibe the sole heir of all my fatlhe's wealth, and the solo succeesor to his business without ally exception. You must live, serve, and hear with him. You can obtain the ascondleicy over him I. have described. You canLI insinuate it so subltlely that he will not sus pect it ci?ol fromn you. I say you can and must do it. The woman who deceived and anlltrapped old Anron Itockhtoart into matri n11y13 can dot just ias she pleases with tliii, if shin will only be as subthle, as patien t, and 'is complacent to hiin after miarriage as she had been before Itlerringe.' 'If Clarence is to be so provided for, Cora iald Sylvan to have modest legacies, aind you to have the huge bulk of the estate-whore is my third to comn from 'V ' Why, my dear, I could never let you have so vast a slice out of the mammotlh fortune I Your third of the estate must follow Clarenco's share of the husiness-inito nothingness. You must play magnanituity, sacrifice your third, and content yourself with a suitable provision,' said Fahian equably. S1 will never do that I I would not do it
to save your life-, Fabian Rockharrt.' 'Oh, yes, you will, my darling. Not to save my life, but to save yourself from being denounced to Mr. Rockharrt, and turned out of this house, destitute and degraded.' 'I don't care if I should be. Do you think me quite a baby in your hands ? I have been remembering that you told me that the law gives the widow one third of her late husband's property when he dies intestate, and entitles her to it, no matter what sort of a will he makes.' 'Unless there has been a settlemenut, my angel,' said Mr. Fabian, composedly. ' Well, there has been no settlement in my case. So whether Aaron Rockharrt should die intestate, or whether he should make a will, I am sure of my lawful third, so I defy you, Mr. Fabian Rockharrt. You may denounce me to your father. He may turn me out of doors without a penny, and with out a character, as the servants say, but he cannot divorce me, .because I have been faithful to him ever since our marriage. I could compel him by law to support me, even though he might nor let me share his home. If you should put your threats in execution and bring about a violent separation between myself and my husband, you would do me a signal favor, for I should gain my personal freedom, with a handsome alimony during his life, and at his death a third of his vast estate,' she concluded, snapping her fingers in his face. ' I think nct.' ' Yes ; I would.' ' No; you would not.' 'Indeed ! Why would I not, pray ?' she inquired, with mocking incredulity.
' Oh, because of a mere trille in your code of nmorals-an insignificant impediment.' ' Tchut ' she exclaimed, contemptuously. ' Do you think me quite an idiot ' 'I think. you would be much worse than an idiot if, in case of my father's discarding you, you shIoui' move an inch toward obtaining alimony. or in the case of the coveted " third." ' 'Pshaw I Why, pray 7' ' Because you have not, and never can have, the shadow of a right to either.' ' Bah I why not 1' SBecause-Alfred Whyte is living.' She caught, her breath and gazed ii;t the speaker with her great dilating blue eyes. W* hat-do-you-mean 7 ' she faltered. ' Alfred Whyte, your husband of twenty years ago, is still living and likely to live-a very handsome man of forty years, residing at his miagnilicent country seat, Whyte Hall, Dulwich, nlear London.' ' Married again 7' she whispered, hoarsely. *Certainly nlot an Ell nglisl? gentlemn does hot commit bigtamy.' ' Flow did you--bcomo acquainted-with thes facts 7' 'IT was sulliciently interested in you to seek him out, when I was in England. I discovered where he lived ; also tllat h was looking out for the best in vestment of his idle capital. I called on him personally in the interests of our great en'terprise. He is now a member of the Londont syndicate.' ' Did you speak-of me 7' 'Novek. mentioned your name. How could I, knowing as I did of the Stillwater,' episode iih your story 7' Anid !h lives Alfred Whyte livesl
Oh, misery,' misery, misery I Evil fate has followed me all the clays of my life,' moaned Rose, wringing her hands. N' ow, why shouldyou take in so, because Whyte is living? Would y,,u halLv that ftne vigorous man, in the prinu: of his life, die for your bonefit i ' But I thought he was dead long ago.' 'You were too ready to believe that, and to console yourself. He was more faithful to your mellvry ' ' How do you know ? You said my name was nuever mentioned between you.' 'Not from him, but from a mutual ac quaintance, of whom I asked how it was that Mr,. Whyto had never married, I heard that he had grieved for her out of all reason and had ever remained faithful to the memory bf his first and only love. My own inference was, and is, that the report of your death was got up by his friends to break off the con nection.' And yo:u never told this "mutual friend" that I still lived 7 ' 'How could I, my dear, with the know ledge of your Stillwater affair? No, no, I was not going to disturb the peace of a good man by telling him that his child-wife of years ago'was still living, but lost to him by a fall far worse than death. No-I lot you remain dead to him.' Oh, misery ! misery I misery I I would to heaven I were dead to everybody ! dead, dead, indeed I ' she cried, wringing her hands in anguish. 'Come, come, don't be a fool I You see you are utterly in my power and must do my will. Do it, and you will come to no harm ; but live and die in a luxurious home.'