Chapter 65654665

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXII
Chapter TitleHOMELESS
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-08-28
Page Number4
Word Count3724
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleFitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)
Trove TitleThe Rival Claimants
article text

S 'oveiist. The Rival Claimants. ".t4«rof " .TAr Sutidmd ITars." " Y*t Ba fys S sime." " he .Dble Lift," Me: . Etc. : CHAPTER XII. S" ' wOMXLZSI.T.S ' The account of the L-dy" Kathleen Connor's singular and romiantic marriage as copied from the Belfst papers into the prinsipal Iriah and English journals, nd afforded food for gossip in the fashion ble aircle where her ld her d ihad hlione a star of the first migniltide. Lotters from old friends, admirer.'ind suitors came pouring in, with a few vctly bridal ifta. The latter were put away un :pened; the letters were ad, hut mnanswered. The Lady Kathleen could not yet cloak her terrible despair and iRgaiah with'smiles. -Cold and grave and silent, ihe morel ibout the stately rooms of Kildure Castle :ike a khadow. Her snowy :ompleiiin ,id a dead pallor about it now. A 'tony 'iok flled the lovely azure eye. No naile new came to the sweet mouth. She ooked like ohe ipon'whourriome deadly licht hs falen. In the coure of a week after the earrilae announcement, thb Lady Nora :sirvd a letter from one of her guardians, Ir. Michael Kildare, inquiring who was ;his Bassantyne, and why the LidyKeth ien' marriage had been so hasty, not to *y clandestine. Nora replied to the ,itterrather aguely, seeking to satisfy sir guardian' curiosity without gratify ii?Lit And indeed she knew nothing herself eoncerning her soep-sister's hus bend; beyond the fact that Ie was involved in the mystery ot Kithleein's pat, and that he held Kathleen in hii'power. Bassattyne and his fellow-fugitive were s-fely installed in adjacent rooms in a remote part of the castle, and in these ?-slcded quarters they spent much of their time. Murple at* with the castle servants in the servants' hall. Basan tyne tobk his meals with the.Lady Kath. teen and IAdy Nors, iho treated him with bare civility, and saw him it no ,thar time. He was like an mutcait or a e.per. and he felt hia position keenly. A. ,,zten times aday his hleart swelled with a s-ffocating rage, and he promised him. self, with terrible oaths, full vengeance upoli his proud young wife. "I Bhall make it all rilht yetl" he .oni say to himself, wit a deadly, dangeroiu glitter of his eyes. "It's -er turn' tow. Itwill be my turn by and !y !". . This' reolve, so fearful in its signif nce., filled hia. even in his worat moods, ith evil satisfaction. * As the . days wore on Buaantyne hinished his fears of pursuit, and per =udned himself that his gauin was perfect, nd that he had nothing to apprehend from detectives. He even decided to his own'iati.faction thathe had been alarmed withisut cause, and that the, man :ae had seen at Ballycastle, and be lierpd to be an emisary of the police, wa s some hanrlesso cuntryman or tourist. The two we ka of grace, as they might be called. which had been assigned to the i ird.T Nra, thus slipped away. The 'day for the return of the rival claihiant if Kildare Castle came at last. The dar was one of those bright, mel liw. Octbher days, when the bare sense of exietsnee is a great joy. The leaves were softly dropping from the trees in the elm-arched avenue, and fluttering down upon the smooth. wide drive. The snshine was unclouds', sweet and in viorrating. The breeze was light and warm. The windows overlooking the sea were up n. Out on the wide Channel white sails were gleaming in the sonshine. Th- s-a-gulls were risin*., and dipping on their lonr. slender win:a, and their cries now and then rose diecordeantly lthrough the air. .nt the drawing-room was not yet ten anted. The Lady Fora was upstairs in the little sea-parlor, listlessly Inking out upon -the sunlit waters. Her bright ycung face was very grave and proud in its espresmlon, yet it h:td ntvevr looked a-mori piqeulnt than non -. ShM had determined that Iedmond Mhildare should never know wh'at it cost her to relinquiiis to him the grand old liome she had been taught to believe her own. She had no hope that her rival' laims would bli disproved, and had made up her mind to the worst. Yet she had arrayed herself as if for - triumph. Her slender figure was habited in a olise-tittin:l robe of sea-green silk, which trailed luon tie floor. A gracelul overakirt, and voluminous sush completed her cotumie. Her corsage was cut in th: square, Pomlpadour fashion,.revealine a section of her snowy neck. fromi which berrounl, aleider throat uprose proiadly. She wore a necklace of inagnificent *ineraldd, and bracelets citf emrald glowed on hr -riund, white arirl, bared to liher elbow. Her hair was worn float ing to lier waist, and was drawn back in careless waves from her white forehead, and cinfined by a bandeau of shining emseralds. She *as standing here alone when her riga caught the loud sounds of the ex. alcted arrival. . She was still etanding there when, *mrte iinets Inter. thi- aoftli

iepsedns and Mr. Michael Kildare cg me{ gently into the nram. - The young Lady. - nr turned and wel gomen him with a sadden light In her desk- ronea eyes and a sodden glow on her cheekL. " My poor darling r' cried the Dublin lawyer, coming forward and embracing her. "I expected to find yoq sorrowing and distressed, hut you are as brave as a young lioness." Then, catching the gleam of the emeralds in her shining waves of hair. he stepped back abruptly and surveyed her, exclaiming, in an altered tone : "Ton look like a young queen, Nora. Can it be that yo-. ate expecting to defeat Redmond Kildare P' "I mean, if defeated, that he shball not know how much pain my defeat costs me." replied Nora. steadily " My jewels are my own, Michael. They be longed to my mother, and no one can itke them from me. Is Sir Russel eome 4". "Yes: they are all below. Prepare for the wort, my poor darling. The case is so very plain that there willbe nothing but folly in going to law. Yet you must decide for yourself, after hearing whmt additional facts have been brought to light. And remember, Nora, that my heart and my poor home are open to you in this extremity." "I will remember." "You will, of course, decline any in vitation the Lady Kathleen may extend to you to accompany her to Ballyconnor," said Michael Kildare, softly. "Her strange marriage shows that she is nni a fiting guide and ceonsellot to a hot headed, enthusiastic, impulsive young rir like you. I had great confidence in iLdy Kathleen. but it is justly forfeited. This Mlr. Bsantyne rosmy be verr wealthy and highly connected, but I consider that Lady Kathleen has lowered herself by a marriage with him. She might have wedded a duke. And so, Norn, I wish you to consider your connection with your step-sister at an end. I have already seen Ldy Kathleen, and requested her to leave Point Kildare to-day.' The Lady Nora's cheeks flushed hotly. "How dared you?'" she cried, haughtily. "Kathleen is my best friend. Poor, poor Kathleen ! You don't know how she needa me, you don't know how I needi her !" "She told me herself that she intended to go to-day," said the Dublin lawyer,. deprecatingly. " She told me that Bally connor was no place for you. Be reason able, Nora, my poor girl. Kildare is no longer yours, and is it not better that I! should bear the pain of dismissing your guests? It would have been too hard a, Task for you." The Lady Nora made e .esture expres mire of a terrible heart pain. She turned from her kinsman, looking out of the window. Michael Kildare was profuse in his 'epologies and protestations. He was es humble, so deprecating, to distreused, that . Nora hloked at hin at last with a forced smil-, and begged no longer pain. himself. " You forgive myaeemingnfeitiouar.ess, Wors ? Then let uo go down to the draw ing-remom. Your guests are awaiting you 'there." He gave her. his arm. She placed her .hand lightly upmn it,. and they left the parlor, proceeded down tihe grand staircase, and entered.the drawing room. The Ladr 'Kathleen was there elreadc, being anxious to give heryonng step-sister the . comfort and eupport of her presence in -the trial before her. Bassantyne was conspicuous by his al' sence... * .? ;." The young Lady Nor. paused near the door, taking a brief survey of the new. comera. Her chief 'uranlian. Sir Russel Ryan, stern and troubled and sorrowful, came forward tio meet her. nnoa greeted him warmly. Mr.Wedburn., Sir Russel'slawyer, then advanced gravely, and shook hands with the Lady Kildar--. A humble; decent-looking couple stood inthelbackground. Noraconjecturedthese to he Mr. and Mrs. Doux, the foster parents of Redmond Kildare. Two other persnns made upthe group. One of these was Redmond Kildare. The other was a lady, deeply veiled, who was half reclining in an easy-chair, and whoae sumprtuous silk dress lay in heavy folds on the floor. Redmond Kildare came forward to greet the Lady Norn with an exultant arnil-. He had the gracious air of a host, and already felt himself master of Kil dare. "I am charmed to see you, my fair eousin," le said, extending his hand to Lady Nora. "Care seems to have touched you lightly." The young girl. would have refused to give him hier hand, so deep was her aver sion to him, but that so many eyes were on her. At this juncture the veiled lady aruse and came forward with a certain grace. her garments trailing, and her costly Indian shawl half falling from her rounded shoulders. She flung back her veil, revealing a handsomne elderly face, framed in with pilffs of gray hair: She inuint have been very brhntiful'in her youth, and her lhold black eyec. althn..h insolent in their ex pression. had stll tihe hlrihtnees and lustre that must have charmed her ad mirers e unt:errr of a centurir before. Hter cheeks were di,-ply ronag.d, ~nd the hand of are hnd he*n called in to darken and make shaaply her perfectly arched eycbrows. Anm e'-r, ino,le.nt smnile sat upotn iher well-tint' d lips. Her nlanner wam imperise. ovrer-bearing. and super ciliouse. Ied?ndnd Klillare oiffed thie ladsd i'i arm. nod ledl hr nhea?re ri " Lnl'Ncr'" he eidl,' wieh ,;n triuiml phant 'leam iin his eyes, "lperihit ne to in:troduce you a, toy itt:ither, ayor aunt, the C.,uItren aof Kildere l" The lady put out her hand. "S., this is tily niece." sae exclaimed, in a falsetto voice. "lthe anI?I t'.r of iay leae h.hsband's youngcrr brothe. My dear, I a'o glsd to asee you !" Site imprinted a kiss on the ,irl'o white cheek. and Norn reilled fro'hlter as if it htd o?eo the saltaliion of a s:rjenth. "We. will ipr~ceed nto I:oiness," said Sir Russ-1 TRian, conductive his ward to a ceat. ' My d ar Lady N-,,ro. ?e ale made ftill inrveti_?etions if ltedmond Kilder's claisie during the pat frtnilght. -e h~re exalmined church registers, and found his certificates to be copies of genuine rntrin. There is no qiinstion hut that the late h.,ord teitmonil Kuildare was legally married tio Iadeloine Blon ham, who is here present!" "Not the slightest question !" said Mr. Wehdbrn, emnphstically. "Thereare two witnee.ea living. The clergymnin wh,, performed the ceremony is alslralirve, atud lnas been visited. ilia testiinouy is clear disteatt ewnetatie sed t, thaweiq,

le positively asd fully remembern marry ing Lord Redmond Kildare to Mira Ben " The church register contains also the entry of the hirth of Redmond, son of Lord Redmotd and Lady Madeleine Kil dare," coniinued Sir Russel, standing by the eontre-table, and addressing himself to Nora. "These good people," indica ting the humble-looking couple in the beckground, "are -Mr. and Mrs. Dox, who received the young child from his father's hands after the Lady Madeleine went insane, and who kept him in their care until he was of an age to be put at school. He ordered the couple to step forward, and proceeded to question them sharply. Their evidence, clearly given, con firmed Redmond Kildare's statements. They were simple and honest-looking, and the Lady Nora gave their atory cre dance. It was short and simple. They said that Lord Redmtond Kildaro had come to them with a young child, which he de clared to be his own lawful son, and of which he had hired them to take charge. This child they knew to he the young man there present, and known as Red mond Kildare. Sir Russel then politely requested the Countess of Kildare to add the weight of her testimony to that already given. This she did in her own way, telling the story of her marriage and subsequent de sertion by her husband in a manner highly theatrical, yet with a directnress and truthfulness.which satisfied even the lady Nora. "The whole case has now been placed before you, my dear Lady Nor,' said Sir Russel, kindly and pityingly. " You have all the evidence Just as a jury would have it. As your guardian, and in ihe stead of your father, I have investigated every scrap of testimony, taking it all as false till proved to be true. I have been assisted by two able and experienced lawy-,re. one of them your devoted kina man. Were there the least break in the chain of evidence-were there the least possibility of fraud or mistake-I should, as your guardian, invoke the law in your defence !" "You mean to say, then," said Nora, becoming very pale, " that you believe this rival claimant to Point Kildare to be the rightful owner?" '.' I do I" said Sir Russel, slowly, reluc tantly and solemnly. "And yon, Michael Kildare," said the young girl;,looking up at him, " do you also believe this young man, Redmond Kildare. to be the rightful owner of this :old castle and estate " 'Michael Kildare flushed a little under her clear, earnet gaze, and he shifted his weight nervously from one foot to the other. Then Ie said, in his soft, feeble voice, yet earnestly and solemnly: "I do! Hard as it is for me to speak the .wordn. ora, he is the rightful owner of Kildare.!" Tihe Lady Nora turned to the English lawyer, and put the question also to him. He answered as the otheers lad done.' :':' The case is settled," said Norn. ." Of. course, there being no doubt in the cafe, no obscurity, recournne to law is not only unnecessary, but foolish. I have every confidence in my guardians and Mfr.Wed burn. My own judgment approves their decision. And now but one question re mains," sheadded, drearily: " Whit is to become of me 1" The Lady Kathleen came nearer to hei. '.Oh, darling Nora,"' she whispered, sorrowfully, " if I could only take you home with me I But your guardiane a fuse toleave you in my charge." The Countess of Kildere; stout and im. pising, lifted her white hand, as a sign that she was about tio speak. "As the aunt of the Lady Nora, and her nearest relative," she said, "I beg that shi' may be left with me. My heart warms to her. Her position at Kildare Castle need be but slightly changed. I entreat that site may be allowed to remain with me.' "Thin is very kind, Lady Kildare," aid Sir Russel, with more warmth than was customaryin his manner, for an act of apparent generosity always touched hint. "As Lady Nora's guardian, I think you, and cordially consent It would have pleased me to take my ward to my own house, but I have already a large family dependent upon me, and my health is infirm. It is with gratitude, Lady Kildare, that I accept you generous offer. "And I also accept it," said Mr. Michael Kildare, in a tone tremulous. as it seemed, with deep feeling. "I should have been overjoyed to share my own home with nby young kinswoman, but mine is but a bachelor eatablishment, not fitted for one accustomed to the luxuries of Kildare Castle. The young Lady Nora looked from one to the other of her guardians. A stormy light began to glow in her brown eyes, and her lips curled in an imnpatient scorn. " I am aware that I am yet a minor," she said, "but I presume I may he allowed a voice in this question. of my disposal." "Certainly," said Sir Russel, un easily. The Dublin lawyer echoed the word, his face reflecting the baronet's uneasl "Then," said Nora, decidedly, ". I utterly decline to remain at Kildare Castle. It has already ceased to be my home. When these peoplecome into it, I must leave it. I have been mistress here. I cannot remain here a dep hd. eat." " But what will you do I" cried Sir lsliiel. "Yooi don't mean tomarry that baenkrupt, Lord O'Neil, doyou I" . Nos's face flushed. '?Not yet," she answered, spliritedl. " 1 would have done so, could I have gone to him rich. But lie is in debt, and now I should be an encumbrance to him. I have promised hinm to wait for him, ol. though I may tell you that he has urged me to marry him immediately." " Your guardians would never consent to such a marriage," said Michael Kil dare, hastily. "Our duty tt your dead father, Nuorn, would not allow us ti con sent to your marriage with a hbeRar."' "Certainly not," ejcnlated Sir Rus sel, decidedly. ' 1 can earn Imy own living." Rsaid the Lady Nora. I can be a 'r, rness, a music or drawing teaclher. I will ,e one of these rather than stoy here at the castle, among people," chl, added, im petnously, " who are abh,,rrent to te." "You must then go hioioe with nine, Nora, "said the Dublin lawyer. "It will be the aim of eny life to make you It wan the only refuge open to hier. N'lra accepted it with thanke and grati. tade. I sin,. It reatdy t," r . ?,te;theL.' as?

said. "My trunks are all pakeed. I foresaw how this would terminate. I suppose these people intend to remain, now they are hereo ?" "Yen, Nfora. Lord ildare intends to remain with his mother. The countees intends to organie her household at once." "Then let as go to-day-now," said NIora. Michael Kildare relected, then con sented. " I am sorry that you dislike so to re main," said Lord Kildare, blandly. "Let us hope that when we know each other hbtter that dislike will wear away. I will sumimon the carriage for yon, Lady Nora. And for you also, Lady Kathleen Bassantynte," he added with a deep bow. The ladies at once withdrew. In less than an hour they returned, clad in gray travelling suits. The Lady Kathleen had her maid with her. The Lady eNor had dismissed her pretty Al leen, as unnecessary to liher future life, but Michael Kildare, meeting the girl In the hail. and seeing her weeping at her dismissal, had re-engaged her. Therefore, when Nora came down. she found, to her great joy and surprise, Alleen bonneted and ready for departure. her farewell to her father having been brief. "It's aed work," muttered the land steward, Mthen, in bidding his daughltr gImul-h-e. "' It seems like witches' work. The Lady Nora will want friends, I'm thinking. Stick to her, Alleen, and qhould anything go wrong, or should she be wanting a friend, send for me. I'd run my head off to serve her, the bonny young lady." htere were tearful eyesin the old castle when Nore entered thie carriage that was to bear her from the home of her ances tors. She had been the sunshine of the place since her birth. She had been a gentle mistress, a kind and sympathising friend, an angel of goodness to every one of her household. They all knew now why she was going-ill news spreads rapidly-and a wild wail went up from every one of her faithful servitors. Mrs. Kelly, the housekeeper, and old Shane were loudest in their expreesions of grief, and entreated Michael Kildare to take them to Dublin also. The chaplain and his wife carne out to bid her farewell. L.ady KaIrleon entered the carriage, Michael Kildare followed, and Bassantyne, hurryitng out, of the castle, was the last to spring into the vehicle. He'slamnlIl the dour shut, and the carriage drove away. A large waggon followed, laden with the lunggage of the two ladies, and sitting among the }see were Mary and Alleen, the maids, and olurple, the dark-faced ralt of-BaHosntyne,. - The Countesae id the Lord of Kildare stood hi thel,; c?tl sitps. waring their handkerchief'l: . tle ddepartic¢r carriage, and to S.r Riteel Rjan and Mr. Wed burn. who followed on hbracback. "They'rei,"mne. lag: and I neagve," said the ctntitens, when the horsemen had vanished dowti the diive. " and you and I are fit full paseoaionn, Redmondl. This is asit shuold lie. Anld now let es call up our household, introduce outrelves to them. since vnone of those gentlemen would introduce us, call in the chaplain and his wife, and settle ourselsas in poa. session. Come." "Onte moment," answered Redmond, striving to catch a last glimpse of the car riage. " I cn tell yoon, mother, I sha n't be contented until I have made the Lady Nora my wife. How quietly she took all her ill-fortune: How proudly site bore her downfall! I tell you I lore her I Haughty little beauty ! She little dreanme of the traps I hare spread for her I She little dreams that the support she deems the strongest wall fail her when she moust needs it! I have only to wait a week or two, then go to Dublin after her. She will be ready to fall into my arms !" He laughed softly to himself, then gave his mother his arm, and they entered the castle. (To e Centieued.)