|Chapter Number||XIV (CONTINUED)|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||A Golden Dawn|
A GOLDEN DAWN. 1 101 FAMILY HERALD] CHAPTER XIV.-Continued. She did not remain there many min utes, but quickly closed her window, still smiling to think what she would and could do. She had been for some time moving quietly about her room when a noise as of some one throwing sand or gravel at the window attracted her attention. At first she thought it was fancy. But it was repeated again and again. Such signals could not have been quite un known to her, for she suddenly grew deadly pale. She went to the window and opened it. The man then stood underneath. He looked up, and in the moonlight their eyes met. " You know me ?" he said briefly. A low cry of wonder and dismay came from her lips. " Is it you, Andrea ?" she asked. " Yes ; I want to speak to you ; you must come to me. Do you hear? I make no prayer ; I say only you must come to me." " I cannot," she answered, with a low moan. " I cannot get out of the house." " You must-I repeat that you must. I have looked half England over to find you, and now I will see you-now here-to-night." "I cannot, Andrea. Be reasonable ; come to-morrow. I dare not," [she : 'aned. "' I say come. You need not fear ; only cowards fear. You think I shall hurt you ; on my honour I will not. You know my power over you-do not hesitate. If you come now and speak with me, you shall return to your room unhurt ; bnt I must have speech with you. I am a desperate man. If you refuse, I shall wake up the house and declare before all what you know and I know. Quick-your choice ?" "I will come," she said. She did not wait even to gather to gether the long dusky hair that lay over her shoulders. She opened the door of her room, which was-near the grand staircase, and looked out cautious ly. There was no sound, nothing but darkness and silence. She knew of a side-door which opened with but little trouble into the grounds.- If she could use that, she could get out in silence and no one hear her. Cautiously she made her way down stairs. In the hall lay a blue-and-white shawl. She lifted it and threw it over her head, then noisely unfastened the door and went out. The cool night-air greeted her. Passing round the western end of the house, she met the stranger face to face. He seized her with almost savage force. "I knew you would come," he said. "I am a desperate man. You lured me on to love you. You laughed at me when I asked you to marry me. I have searched half England to find you ; and now I shall not leave you till you promise to be my wife. You may look at me. You think me mad. I may be. I have been mad, they say, since you played with me. But I am sane now, and you must listen to me." She foresaw that she had a hard battle to fight, and that she must do the best she could. What took place between them no one ever knew. What was the secret of his power over her no one ever un derstood. She walked with him for more than an hour, then she raised a white tired face to his. " You will let me go now, Andrea," she said. And he watched her as she re.entered the house. The beauty and exultation had all left her now. She undressed hurriedly and flung herself, tired in body and mind, upon her bed. She drew the blue-and-white shawl from her head, and folded her hands in it. Soon the dark eyes closed, and the beautiful widow slept. Soon dreams gave her back her happiness, and she smiled while her hands lay warm and still, folded in the pretty shawl, What that night saw only Heaven knew; but one thing was certain-day never dawned for her, It was late the next morning when the household began to stir. Lady Fraser's maid Julie waited for some time before she knocked at her mis tress's door, and then there came no answer. She went away, thinking that her mistress slept and did not wish to be disturbed. But the morning wore on, and she grew anxious at last. She could hear no sound, and could get no answer. She went in search of Lady Rosedene, who smiled when she heard the maid's story, but finally shared her anxiety. They went together to the widow's room, but all endeavours to rouse the sleeper were ineffectual. "We must have the door opened," said Lady Rosedene, with a pale scared face. "' What can be the matter ?" They fetched the butler an old con fidential servant of Lady Rosedene's, and he broke open the door. Then followed the wailing and shrieking of women, speedily succeeded by the horror and anger of men. For the beautiful Lady Fraser lay dead, stabbed to the heart-stabbed in such a manner that she must have suffered little pain. Her closed hands clutched Hyacinth Vane's shawl, and to the fringe of the shawl was fastened one of the blue cornflowers that she had worn on her dress. The servants tried to remove the shawl, but the dead hands clasped it with the clasp of death. To one and all the same awful thought came. The young girl who had threatened her rival's life had surely accomplished her end ; and there in the dead woman's hand, by the will of Heaven, was left the proof of her guilt. Her own words rang in all ears--"I shall kill her if she takes my lover from me ." CHAPTER XV. Dene Hall was filled with conster nation. Colonel Halle undertook the superintendence; Lady Rosedene was quite incapacitated. All that she could say was-" I knew evil would come of it." Even in the midst of her sorrow and dismay she had time to reflect that her prestige was ended-that never again could people speak with satisfaction of her home. A murder had been qom mitted there--a beautiful woman had
been cruelly slain in the middle of the night. Instead of being the admiration of the whole country, her house would henceforth be shunned as the scene of a most cruel tragedy. Colonel Halle, by dint of hard words, brought her back to reason. " It is clearly," he said "a case of murder, and the laws of the land must be obeyed ; no one must touch the body or enter the room." The last injunction came too late. When the rush of terrified women came, they disturbed the ornaments on the toilet-table; and no one remem bered whether the window was found open or shut ; all that was known was that the dead woman grasped the shawl in her hands as though she had grasped it in her last struggle. Colonel Halle forbade its removal. He sent away the weeping women, he kept a watch on the chamber of the dead. He was a strong man and a brave soldier, but his eyes filled with tears as he picked up from the ground the beautiful spray of apple-blossom that had been worn on the white breast now stilled for evermore. Very quickly the detectives came, and the whole ghastly machinery of the law was set in force. No one ever knew who first uttered the fatal words "She must be guilty; her shawl was in the dead woman's hand." Several guests of her own sex, with some women-servants, sought Miss Vane. No one could tell in the after days who was the first to enter the room where the girl stood in her white dressing-robe, her hair falling like a veil over her, her face colourless as the dead woman's, a terrible fear in her eyes, her white lips dumb. She leaned back against the wall, with her hand held out as though she would ward off some terrible blow. Who entered first, who said first that she was guilty, who re vealed that she had said over and over again that she would slay Lady Fraser if she took her lover from her, who repeated the last words that she had uttered in the ball-room when she hastened away with the blue-and-white shawl round her shoulders which was now clasped in the dead woman's hand, was never known. The storm gathered, and the young girl stood - there breasting it alone. Her own sex shrank from her with looks of scorn, with horror in their eyes, with fear in their faces. The room seemed full of whispers. " She is so young," said one ; "could she be so cruel ?" " She looks so fragile," remarked another, "it is a wonder that she possessed the strength." " Hate is strong," was the answer; and she hated her rival because she was jealous of her. And all the time they spoke these words Hyacinth stood dumb and mo tionless, with unutterable woe in her white face. She never moved until, attracted by the crowd, Alan entered the room and saw her, the mark for all foul suspicion. She sprang to him, regardless of who saw or heard her ; she flung herself upon his breast ; she clasped her arms round his neck. " Oh, Alan save me, help me ! Send them away; they say I killed her ! And the words;were:wailed out in a voice that filled some of them with pain. He gathered her to him; he kissed the sweet despairing face. " No one shall say so, my darling; I will take you away. No one thinks you did it ; it is women's foolish talk. You shall go home ; I will take you. Leave the room," he said to the ladies and women-servants who had gathered there. " Hyacinth, get ready to return to your father. I will stand outside here at the door, and see that no one molests you." He raised her white cold hand to his lips and kissed it. "My darling," he added, " those sweet hands would not knowingly take the life of anything." But, when she tried to arrange her dress, her hands trembled so that one of the women-servants had to help her. She was not long however before she was ready,t. but, when Alan led her from the room, he was stopped by a stern-faced officer of the law. " That lady cannot leave the house, sir. I have a warrant for her apprehen sion for the murder of Lady Fraser." "You are mad," said Alan, "or rather those who granted such a warrant are mad !" The officer was immovable. "I am very sorry, sir, I must obey orders. The lady cannot leave the house. When she does, it will be to go to Ulverstoo goal.". Those who saw the scene that follow ed will never forget it. The officer produced the warrant for Hyacinth's apprehension-he had ridden to the nearest magistrate for it ; and the girl, her fair young face as white as death, clung to her lover, crying out that he must save her. Alan, mad with shame and despair, sent for Lady Rosedene, who came with Colonel Halle. "You cannot allow such an injustice as this," he said; "it is too cruel I This young lady is under your care, Lady Rosedene ; they shall trample my dead body under foot before they touch her I" A voice rose from the crowd of woman " She killed Lady Fraser because she was jealous of her I" When Alan heard the words, they smote him like a sword. The arm that had gathered her closely to him fell by his side. She raised her despairing eyes to his face. "Oh, my love, my love," she cried, "surely, if all the world fails me, you will not ?" Lady Rosedene's words bore fatal witness against her young visitor. "I never thought you meant it, Hyacinth," she said ; "although I be lieve she drove you mad with jealousy." "I may have been mad," replied the girl calmly-" I do not remember what I said; but I take Heaven to witness that I never injured Lady Faaser." " If you are innocent," said Colonel Halle, "you will be able to prove it at the right time and in the right place," He, for one, evidently believed in the girl's guilt. The terrible scene was shortened by Colonel Halle, Under some pretext he drew Alan away, and during his absence Hyacinth Vane was removed under the charge of the police.aofficer.
The details of the terrible tragedy at Dene Hall were soon known all over the land. The newspapers discussed it fully; every illustrated paper had a view of Dene Hall ; every variety of style was used in describing the tragedy -the pathetic, the sentimental, the monitory ; but one and all of the writers agreed that it was the most awful crime of modern times. How greedily people read the story of the handsome Squire who had so truly loved the young girl, although, manlike, he had thought it no treason to flirt with another woman! How they wondered about the young girl, who was said to have the face of a goddess ! How they talked of the bril liant woman who had tried to lure the young lover away I It was the old story, they said-love jealousy, and madness. No one seemed to doubt Hyacinth's guilt-she most have done the deed. So the public read and talked, while at Dene Hall the dreary tragedy moved on. There was an inquest, and the verdict was " Wil ful murder." Then most of the visitors left Dene Hall. Colonel Halle, at Lady Rosedene's request, remained. The saddest part of the tragedy was to come. Alan Branston determined that Francis Vane should not hear the intelligence from any one but himself, and he went over to see him. He lived out of the world, this scholar who had been so true to one love ; but the mo ment his eyes fell on the young Squire,s face he cried out " There is something wrong with my daughter I" Alan tried to tell him gently, to break the-news softly, but from the first mo ment in which he clearly understood there was death in his face. He spoke at last, but his words were few. "My daughter is in prison, you tell me, charged with the murder of the woman of whom you made her jealous?" " Alas, it is so I" said Alan. "I would rather be dead than telling this to you." " And were I in your place, I would rather be dead than saying it." The tragedy was deepened when people heard that Francis Vane, scholar and gentleman, was found dead on his wife's grave. There was a smile on his face when they raised him, as though he knew the troth. (To be continued.) THE REAL EVILs oF LIFE.-The evils of life to be attacked with the most vigour and persistence are igno rance and wrong-doing. They under lie all the many sorrows and tragedies which afflict mankind. They are the roots from which every variety of cala mity springs. The truest philanthro pist and the most effective reformer is he who appreciates this, and makes it the basis of his efforts ; and the happiest man or woman is the one who in a wise self-culture and a broad sym pathy with others, holds fast to the convicton that character is the essence of destiny.