|Chapter Title||THE OFFERED COMPROMISE.|
|Newspaper Title||Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||The Rival Claimants|
1loveIist. The Rival, Claiffants. By NIRS. HARRIET LEWIS. .Author of The Suaderca Hseart," " Tfs Bailiffs Schme," '"iThe Dorible Life," Etco., Etc. CHAPTER IX. TIM OFFERED COhrxBOMISB. For an hour or more the two guardians of the Lady Nora Kildare, in conjunction with Sir Rlussel'a lawyer. Mr. Wedhurn, studied closely the various documents submitted by Redmond Kildaro in support of his claims to the Kildare title and estates. The Lady Nora looked on in silence. The Lady Kathleen Connor. kept hie seat bythes window, and busied herself with her needle. Redmond Kildare watcheld the gentlemen and the Lady Nors furtively, .and with equal impartiality, and with the calmness of assured victory in his manner. At last, with a gesture of utter weari ness and sorrow, Mr. Michael Kildare, the Dublin attorney, witlhdrew himself from his associates ad their discussion, and approached his young kinawoman. '`You look tired and anxious. Nora," lie said, in his soft, gentle. fiebloe voice. "This is a wearisome husiness, bit. I hope it will soon be settled. I telecphled . to Sirltiasel the other day. and he came onto Dublin with his lawyer sooner than I had expected, so that we have arrived here not muich behind Iledmond hinijelf; and by to-night, I hope, all our suspense will be ended, and we shall have settled upon a course of action." "I hope so," said the young Lady Nora, wearily. "Mly poor child 1" said Mr. Kildare, in a tone of sympathy and tenderness, " this is a terrible trial for you. I wish I could tell you to hope, but I dare not. You must be prepared for the worst. We muay mourn and grieve, but juistrce must take her course; and I know you are too honorable, proud and just to desire wealth and honours at the expense of another." *The young Lady Nora's lips quivsred. " The-tise case will he decided against me, then I" she asked. The Dublin lawyer replied only by a significant silence. ifore Nora could commanid herself to speak again, the London lawyer, Mr. Wedburn, dushed down upon the table the last of the documents submitted to his examination, and exclaimed: "These documents seem to be per fectly genuine ; and if genuine, of course they put the most serious aspect upon this business. - Oblige us, er. I.Kildare, by telling us, at this point, all that you know concerning this new claimant to Kildare; that will give us the additional light we want, and enable us to see our way more clearly." "Certainly, certainly, sir," said Mr. Michael Kildare, a little nervously. "1 I will tell you all I know concerning Red mond Kildare's claimm. Unfortunately I know more on the subject than I wish I did l" .Ie glided back to his seat, and, with a grave face, began his narrative: "You all know," he said, "that the fifteenth Earl of Kildare, the Lady Nora's grandfather, had two sons, Redmond ands Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was the father of our young Lady Nora. Red mond was supposed to have died a bachelor, some four-and-twenty years ago. He suffreid his last illness at-Point K"ildare, and died here. At that tiino I was living in Dublin, as now, and was in the earlypractice of my profession. It maybe as well forms to state here that I belong to a remote branch of the family, and'out of the line of successioo, but that I was always a favorite with the Kildarea of the Castle." " We know all that," said Sir Russel, with a slight impatience. "Pray come to the point, Kildare I" Michael Kildarn bowed deprecatingly, his meek,, pale face flushing slightly. "Ibeg your pardon," he said, rather timidly. "To come to the point. Some four-and-twenty years ago Red moid K-ildare lay ill here at the castle, snd was given over to die. It was then he sent a special messenger to me at Dublin with a letter, bidding me come to him post-haste, as he had something to say tome before he died. I set out at once, reaching the castle two days before hid death. And the day before lie died he miade to me a secret communication ofjthe utmost importance." "He acknowledged a marriage with an actress" demanded Sir Russel. "He did. He told me that he had been mad enough to marry an actress be longing to a London theatre, and named Sladelia. Bonham. This woman was ary
beauri l,.,gay h5drdSdahing, 5.iia Iu an; evil momenthemade hlir ris wife. One; child-a son-was the offspring of that smarriage..'-While this son ras amerein font in, arms,LordlRedmond Kildare: htirqd9f'bis wife. His .disenchantmnent saeasbrought 'to, a crisis by the discovery, that before her marriage she had not been a'wvman of pure life: To introduce her sa his wife, with her past record, td his: proud, stern, honorable father, to his poble younger brother, and to theo.pure and-honorable wife of his brother, re quirodmore courage and audacity than he could command. Therefore he abandoned her. Hoe asked me if he had grounds for a divorce, but it was too late for such a step, had it been feasible. He had pro viously asked my opinion secretly, while on a visit to me in Dublin, on the feasi bility of obtaining divorces, but it is only his death'bed revelationr, I desire to sub mit to you. The other was of less im portance, and divested of the solemnity which gave the last one weight." " He abandoned his wife ?" asked Mr. Wedburn. ".He did, and told.her he should di vore himself from her, and repudiate his child. The woman, bad as she might have been, loved him, and went mad at his desertion. She was sent to a mad house. The child was put to nurse in the country. Lord Redmond Kildare ac knowledged that child to me as his own, but declared thathe could not permit the sonof his mad marriage, the son of'his actress ,wife int iinh'eit, ildare to theds& triaent of Lord Fitzgerald. He said the boy lrad bad blood, and would be but'a' blot upon the noble and ancient line of' Kildares-" "1My- father was decidedly flattering," observed Redmond Kildare, with a scowl. "I am but repeating what he said to me," said Mr. Michael, in a feeble, de precoting way. "You cannot blame me, surely, for his sentiments. Lord Red mond desired that his eon should, there fore, be brought up to a profession, and in total ignorance of his birth and rights. He said if the boy ever discovered the truth, and demanded of me my knowledge in the matter, I could speak, but other wise I must keep ailent. He bound me to secrecy. And then he made me pro mise to look after his son, to ha e him educated, and put into a position, to earn his own support. I have kept that pro mise faithfully. I have never breatned Lord Iledmond's secret all these years. I dared not, if I had been free to do so, tell it to the stern and proud old earl. I dared not tell it to the late earl, the Lady Nora's father, for he was my best and trtest friend. And I would have died, if I had been permitted, without telling it to poor Lady Nora, whom I love as if she were my daughterl I would have spared her this trial at the expense of my life I' He removed his spectacles, swiping themn with his handkerchief, and then rubbed his wet forehead. " You know, then, that Lord Redmond Kildare left a legitimate son 1" questioned Sir Russel Ryan. " I knowr it." " You know this young man to be that son " " I do, I hive kept trace of him all my life long. For several years lie remained with the humble family near London in whose care he had been placed. Hesup posed himself their son. But when he was old enough to be seant to school I went to his foster-parents, paid themea sufficient sum of money for, the lad's ex prnses,and'ordered him tobe sent to a good free-School. At my desire his foster-. parents 'infqrnmed the boy that his 'real: nae was Rednmond, and that his father was dead and his mother in an asylum for the insane. - At school the boy wasknown as John R dmind. He used at times to visit his mother. but I never showed my self to him,'fea'ing to excite his curiosity. or suspicions of the truth. I-continued to pay his expenses and supply liint with money out of my own pocket. I kept up my comunications with him through his foster-parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dox. 'At last hlie chose a profssi -ii and began his study.. Ile was still engaged in study for the laIr, when, a mionth ago, hi mother recovered her reason. She was sent to him. She told him her story.'' He set to work to gain his proofs of his motlhers marriage and his own -identity, and finally came to me. And then I dared conceal the truth no longer. The secret was known to him, and all 1 could do was to seek to avoid a scandal. I telegraphed for Sir Russel; I wrote, ti Nora' You know the rest l" He concluded with considerable ap parent nervousness and anxiety, and drew along breath of relief, as if his task had been disagreeable to him. Mr. Wedburn looked thoughtful; Sir Russel Ryan looked troubled and per plexed. " The case looks clear enough, Wed burnl" said Sir Russel, after a pause. "What is to h,- done?" " We must examine the registers from whichl these certificates were copied,"" said Wedburn, slowly, "and see Mr. and Mrs. Dox, and the lody who claims :o be Lord Redmond Kildare's widow I" "And then?" "And then, Sir Russel, we shall have to decide whether we shall go to law or not 1" "That can be decided now," said the Lady Norn, in her clear, high voice. " If my guardians and you, Mr. Wedbuhn, are persuaded of the justice of this young man's claims, why should we waste money in resisting his demands 1 Why should we arouse the scandal Mr. Michael desires to avoid ? Besides, swhat is right is right. I want no one's property but my own. Make what investigation you -will, and inform me of the result.': But don't forget that if the evidence is strong enough to convince those who desire 'ny triumph, it cannot fail to convince striangers." "She is right;" said Sir Russel. " We will see these people, and if we are con vinced, we may know a jury would be." "You will be convinced," declared Mr. Michael, sormrowfully. "And after the investigation we shall be back where we are now. Lord Redmond haa a better heart than one could have ex pected from his maternity. In fact, he seems to display some of the noble qualities of his father's family. He has expressed deep sorrow at the unfor. tunate position of my poor little Noer, and-" "Permit me to speak for myself, Mr. Kildare." said hedmond, arising, and waviog his hand in a graceful gesture. " I comprehend the anguish it will cost Lady Ncra to yield to another the place she has always believed her own. No one can lose a heritage like this without a deadly grief. I wish, therefore, tooffer a com promise." '"A compromiseo " said Sir Russel, in nurprise. "Acomproamiset" echoed Mr. Wedburn, with a look of interest in his keen eyes.