|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||For Cora's Sake|
A STRANGE PASSION. FOR CORA'S SAKE. CHAPTER XXXVI.-(Continued). ' No, dear; you ,ere not to blame. You were true, candid,'natural, through it all. Our betrothal dear, was on your part the betrothal of friends. You did not know your own heart then. You went abroad with .yoer grandparents, and, after two years of travel, you were thrown in the court circles of London, and exposed to all the splendours, temptations, and fascinations of rank, culture, and refinement, such as you had never met at home in your rural neigh bourhood. You were caught, dazzled, bewildered. You thought you loved the English duke who sought your hand-' ' But I never did, Rule. Oh, heaven knows I never did. It was a self-delusion,' broke in Cora. "No: you never did. I saw that in the first instant that I met your eyes in the log cabin up yonder. You never did. Yet you were under the influence of that delusion when I found you on our wedding evening in such a paroxysm of grief and despair that I-astonished and amazed at what I saw shared your delusion and imagined that you loved this duke when you married me. What could I do, my own dear Cora, for whom I would have lived or died, but effhce myself from your life ?' ' Oh, you could have given me time to recover from my mental illness, since I had done no evil willingly. Since I had kept my troth as well as I could. Since I had vowed to love and serve you all the days of my life. You should have given me time, Rtile, to recover my senses and keep my Yes; I should have done so. But, you see, I did not know. How could I k'hiow ? -.Oh, my dear Cora. It cost me a little to lay dotwrn all the honers I had .won, for they ,were worthless to me if not shared by you, .for,.whom they were won. But it coat' my life almost to resign you. Aline was it ' the flight of a felon' or a coward, but the retirement.of one sick, sick unto death of the world and of all `the glory of the world. Some men in my case might have sought relief in death, but I-I know I must live intltlihe Lord 'of life should himself relieve nei of duty. So I left the city on the night 9f my wedding day, the night also before my;inauguration day.' 'LOh, Rule, as if it required that supreme act-of renunciation to tear the veil from my eyes and let me sie you as you were, and see my own heart as it was-from that hour I knew how much, how deeply how eternally I loved you,' said Corona. Rotheay raised hot hand to his lips and kissed it. Then he resumed `I wrote two letters-one to you, ex plaining my motives for leaving, and ad ing you not to repeat to any one the subject _or substance of our last interview, lest it should, he misunderstood or misrepresented, and should do you unmerited injury with ai evil-thinking wiorld-' -` Yes, Rule. See, see. I have that letter yet.' exclaimed Corona, hastily unbuttoning the front of her bodice and pulling up the little black silk bag which she wore next to wher heart, suspended from the silken cord around her neck, and taking from it the old, yellow, broken paper which contained the last lines he had written to her. ' You kept that all this time, dear ?' he inquired gently taking the paper and looking at it 'Yes. Why not? It was the last relic I possessed of you. And it has never left me. I never showed it to a human being, because you did not wish me to do so. But you said you .had written two letters. To whom was the other ? We have never heard of it.' Rothsay looked at her in surprise for a moment and answered : ' The other letter ? Why, of course it was my letter of resignation.' ` Then it was never found. 'Never. If it harl been, it would have saved much trouble. No one knew what had hlcomni of you, Rule, Not even T, except that you had left me on nccount of that conversation between us, which you adjured lme never to divulge. And oh, wlhat amazement your disappear. ance caused, and what conjectures as to your fate. Many thought tent you had been assasasinated and your body sunk in the river. Oh, Rule. Many thought that you had heen ahducted by some political enemy as if any force could have e.rried yumu ',fr. Rule.' Rothmsmy laughand for the first tine doming the Interview. Corona continued:
' Advertisements were placed in all the` papers, offering large - rewards for informa-& tion that should lead to the discovery of your fate or whereabouts, living or dead.; And oh, how many imposters came forward to claim the money, with information that led to nothing at all. A -sailor returning from Rio do Janeiro swore that you had shipped as a man before the mast and gone out with him, and that he had left you in the capital of Brazil. A fur trader from Alaska repotted you killing seals in that territory. A returned miner swore that he had left you gold digging in California. A New Bedford sailor made his affidavit thati he had seen you embark on a whaling ship for Baffin's Bay. These were the most hope ful reports. But there were others. There was never the body of an unknown man found anywhere that was not reported to be yours. Oh, Rule, think of the anguish all these rumours cost your friends.' ' Cost you, my poor Corona. I doubt if they cost any other human being a single pang.' ' But all these rumours proved to be false, and your fate remained a mystery until it was apparently cleared up by the report of your murder by the Comnnches in the massacre of La Terrepeur.' ' A report as false as any of the others, as you see, yet with a better foundation in probability than any of those, as I have ex plained. But how my letter of resignation should have been lost I cannot conjecture. I posted it with my own hand,' said Roth say, reflectively. ' Why, letters are occasionally lost in the mail. But, Rule, how was it that you
never heard of all the amazementand con fusion that followed. your flight, for the want of your letter to explain it T, , Because, dear, from the time I left the State capital to this day I have never seen a newspaper or spoken, to a civilized being.' 'Rule' ' It is true, dcir. Look at ,me. Have I not degenerated intp', savage 7' I No, no, no, Regulas Rothsny, you could never do that. Ah, how much nobler you look to inc in that rude forest, garb than ever in the fine dress of the drawing-room. But tell mA 'tbout your journey from the city into the wilderness, and of your life since.' ' I have been trying to do so, Cora, but every time I try to begin imy narrative by reverting to the hour of my flight, I Seem spellbound to that hour and cannot escape from it. But I will try again,' he said,. and he began his story. He told her, in brief, that on leaving the Rockhold house and going out upon the sidewalk, he found the streets still alight with the orgies of revelers who had come to the inauguration. In moving through the crowd he was unrecognized, for who could suspect the black.coated figure passing along the street at midnight to be the governor-elect of the State, in whose honor the assembled multi. tubes were getting drunk I His first intention had been to take it hack, drive to the railway depot, and board the first train going West. But the hacks were all engaged as sleeping berths by men Swho
could not get accommodations in any of the houses of the overcrowded city. So ha set off to walk, and almost immedi ately came face to face with old Scythia, the friend of his childhood.: 'Old Scythia I' exclaimed Corona, inter rupting the narrative. ' Yes, dear ; the seeress of Raven Roost, as they used to call her. Of cours6 I never, even as a boy, believed in the supernatural powers of divination ascribed to her, but I must credit her with wonderful intuitions. She had divined the very crisis that had come, and in that hour of my agony and humilation she exercised a strange power over me,' said Rothsay; and then he took up the thread of his narrative again. He told her that on leaving the State capital he had taken neither railway carriage nor river steamboat, but had tramped, with old Scythia by his side; all the way from the Cumberland mountains to the Southwestern frontier. The journey had -taken then all the summer for they traveled very slowly-some times walking no moi than ten miles a day, sometimes sleeping oni pallets made of leaves under the trees of the forest, sometimes reaching a pioneer's log hut, where they could get a-hot supper and a nights lodging. Sometimes stopping over Sunday in some settlement where there was no church, and where Rule, though not an ordained minister would on Christian principles hold a service and preach a sermon. So they journeyed over the mountains, and through the valleys and forests, until at length, in the end of October, they arrived
at the poorest, loneliest, and most forlorn of all the pioneer settlements they had seen. This was La Terrepeur, on the borders of the Indian Reserve. It was a settlement of about twenty log huts, in a small valley shut in by densely wooded hills, and watored by a narrow brook. It was too near the country of the Comanches for safety, and too far from the nearest fort for protection. There was neither church nupr school house within a hundred mniles. The travellers were hospitably received by the pioneers, nend here, as the autumn was far advanced, and travel difficult, they determined to halt for the winter, at least, and in the spring to go further. South in search of Scythia's tribe, the Nez Percees, who had boon moved away from their former hunting grounds. They were feasted and lodged by the hunters that night. The next morning the men turned out in a body, felled trees an(l cleared a spot on the slope of a wooded hill, sawed logs and built two hots, one for Roth say, amd one for old Scythia. They were finished before night. And then the settlers had a house-warning, which was a breakdown dance to the music of the one fiddle in the settlement, and a supper of such eatables and drinkables as the place could afford. But there was no furniture in these two primitive dwellings. So once mare these wayfarers had each to sleepon a bed of leaves. On the second day the man who owned the only mule and cart, and was the only expressman and carrier to the settlement offered to go to the nearest post trader's
station-a distance of fifty miles-and purchase anything that the strangers might need, if said strangers had the money to buy. Rothsay had money in notes, . hardly thought of, and never looked at, except when on their long journey, he had to take out his pocket book to pay for accommodations at some log cabin, or to purchase a change of underclothing at some post trader's. Also old Scythia had a pouch of silver and gold coin, saved from the money that had been regularly sent to her by Rule from the time when he first began to earn wages to the time when they set out for the wilderness in company. Of this money they gave the frontier expressman all that he required to purchase the plainest furniture for the log.cabins bedding, cooking utensils, crockery-ware, and some groceries. ' You can't buy bed or mattresses at the post trader's;, but yer can buy ticking, and we can sew it up for yar, and the men will stuff with straw. There's plenty of straw,' said one of the kindly women, speaking for all her neighbours. And the expressman set out with his list. In three days he was back again with a satisfactory supply. The women made the straw beds and pillows and hemmed the sheets. The men filled the ticks and " knocked together " a pine table and a few rude, threo-legged stools. And so Rothsay and Old Scythia were settled for the wintor. Rothsay took ulson himself the office of teacher and preacher. Among the articles brought from the post trader's were a few
Bibles, hymn books, and elctnentary school books, ,dates anni pencils. He began his labors by holding a religious service in his own cabin on the first Sabbath of his sojourn º errepeur, which-per haps for its rat 's attended by the whole of the little nity. Antd on the next day he opened his ttle school in his hut, where he taught all day, and slept all niglyb. Old Scythias cabin, was kitchen and dining room. LAll that autumn, winter, and spring Rule laboured among the pioneers of La Terropeur. It was not true, as had been reported, that he was a missionary and schoolmaster to the Indians; for no one of the savages who occnsionally came into the settlement could be indusetl to approach the ' school.' It wits in June that old Scythia became restless and anxious to find her tribe-the wandering Nez Percees. Itothsay gave his school a vacation and set out with Scythia to find the valley where they were reported to be in camp. ' This valley, Corm, dear,' said Rothsay, interrupting the course of the narrative. ' But when we reached it, the Nez Percees had disappeared. A lonely old hunter,: who had built this hut, was the only, human being in the place, and he- was slowly dying, and he would have died alone but for the opportune arrival of old Seythia and myself. He told us that the tribe had crossed the river about two weeks before, and were far otn their emigration west. ' Old Scythia sat down flat on the poor, drew up her knees, folded her hands Upon
them, dropped her head, and died as quietly as a tired child falls to sleep' * Oh,' exclaimed Cora, ' how sad.' 'Yes, it was sad; age, fatigue, and dis appointment did their work. I buried her body under that pine tree where your Uncle Clarence. sat down. The old hunter's struggle with dissolution was longer. He lingered five days. I waited on him until death relieved him, and then laid his body .to .rest beside, old Seythia's. I was then preparing to `return to La Terrepeur, when a wandering scout brought me the news of the massacre of the inhabitants, and the destruction of the settlement... Since that time, dear Corona, I have lived alone on the mountain. That is all. Come, shall we go down and see your uncle I' ' Yes,' said Corona. And they arose and walked down into the valley. They soon found the waggon camp bf Clarence Rockharrt and his followers. The horses and mules, wiihach had been un harnessed, watered and fed, were now tethered to the scattered trao trunks, and were nosing about under the dried leaves in search of the tender herbage that was still springing in that genial soil beneath the shelter of the fallen foliage. The waggons had been drawn up under cover of the thicket and prepared as sleeping berths. On the grass was spread a large white damask tablecloth, and on that was arranged a neat tea service for three. Martha was busy at a gypsy fire boiling coffee ai.d.broilihg venison steaks. 'You are just in time, Rule. How do you do I' exclaimed Mr. Clarence, emerging
from among the horses, and coming forward toshiLkehauds with Rothsayasif they had been in the daily habit of meeting for the last four years. The two men clasped hands cordially. 'I always had a secret conviction that you.were living, Rule, and always secretly hoped to meet you again, "somehow, some where "; and now my prescience is justified in our meeting to-day.' 'Olarence,'-gravely replied Rothsay, ' you ask me no questions, yet now I feel that you are entitled to some explanation of my strange flight and long sequestration. And I will give it to you to-morrow.' ' My dear. Rothsay, I have divined much of the mystery, but you may tell me what you like, when you like. And now supper is ready,' said Clarence heartily, as the four servants came up, each with a dish to set on the cloth-quite an unnecessary pageantry where one would have been enough, but that they all wanted to son the long-lost man. And with the warmth and freedom of their race they quickly sot down their dishes and gathered around the stranger to give him a warm welcome, expressing loudly their surprise and delight in seeing him. ' Dough 'deed I dean. wonner at nuffin' root turns up in dis yere now country I' old Martha declared. Then followed a gay and happy at Jfesco supper, t By the time it was over the sun had set, and the autumn evening air, even in that southern clime, was very chilly, So the three friends arose from the table.
Rothsay and Corona turned to go up the hill. Clarence escorted Ll.'.n, - curr . g Corona's bag. They parted at the dloor of thl lg wlhin. 'I shall have our tent pitched at the foot of the mountain-early to-morrow. morn-" ing,?and breakfast prepared. You will come down and join. me,' said Mr. Clarence as he bade the reunited pair good night. - The waggon camp did not break up the next day or the day after that. On the third day who should arrive but Lieut. Haught, absent on leave, and come to look up his relations. His ineeting? with them was a. jubilee. His sisterr wept for joy ;,his'brother-in-law and his uncle would have embraced him if they had expressed their emotions as continental Europeans do; even the negros almost hugged ;and kissed him. On Lieut. Haught's representations and at his persuasions the little camp broke up, and with Rothsity and Cora in company, marched off to Fort Farthermost, and were cordially received by the commandant and officers, and where the reunited pair. com menced life anew. , My story opened with the marriage and mysterious separation of the newly married pair. Is should close with their reunion. The later life of the young hero belongs to history. It would require a' pen more powerful than mine to pursue his career, which was as grand, heroic and 'romantic as that of any knight, prince, or' paladin in the days of old.' ' His pure name and fame became identified with the rise and progress of a great state in that Southwestern wilderness." .. Soldier, statesman, patriot, benefactor, all in one, his memory shall be honoured as long as his 'country shall last. And yet, perhaps the crowning glory of his illustrious: character was his power of self-renunciation- proved ii every act of. his public life, but' shown 'first, perhaps,. when,' to leave the life of one belnvcd woman free, he renounced not only the hand of his adored bride, but " The kingdoms of the we and the glory." THE END.