|Chapter Title||THE CLOVEN FOOT APPEARS.|
|Newspaper Title||Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||The Rival Claimants|
The Rival laimanllts. By URS. HARRIET LEWIS. baikAs of ".ThAc Suedared HfI,/r.'" T Bail??' Steme," . " Trh Double Life," Etc., Etc. , CHAPTER XIII. m CLOVEN ?Oo? APPEARs. It was the close ut a dre?iiy October lay that the party from Kildare Castle arrived at Dublin. Sir Russel Ryai, the principal guardian of th'fyoung Lady Nora, bade her adieu at the station, pro mising to call upon her in her now home •n the following day, and entering a cab with Mr. Wedburn, his English lawyer, Srove to his hotel. The parting between the step-eisters was very painful, but it was mnercifully brief. The Lady Kathleen and Basaan lyne drove also to an hotel. They were to go on to Wicklow bya morning train,and , %e twogirls, both of whose lives had so t-rangely darkened, were not to meet again for the present--parhaps never. The two cabs containing her friends sad driven away, when Mr. Mfichael Kil laie ishered his young kinswoman into a +imilii vehicle; A?bear. fallowed her nistress ; the trunks were .vaunted ; and the lawyer sprang in beside Lady Nora, iving loudly his order for home. The tab was presently hurrying through the streets towards Mr. Kildare's residence. A heavy fog, thick with 'damp, en hroiuded the Irish city like a mourning reil. Through the mist the light of the ;as lamps struggled with a faint and siekly yellow glare. A few people were ;oing swiftly along the wet streets under dig umbrellas, and a few homeless or ad eenterous pe wnc ded eldie'to' shop w''Y indowis or ]sung a. ut' hedtin dooi:a Out for the inost part the streetswere de lerted. ,1" Nora pressed' her pale. tear wet Iae :lose to the wet cab windoir, 'aiid looked tut into the dreariness outaide,'s horrille tense of. desolation' and heart-sickness usailing her. WVe are almost there." said Michael Kildare, peering out. "We are almost tome, Nor:; ana it won'the long, I hope, sefore yirucan call my lonely old house 'honie' with'the same affection I feel for Nora could not answer, but her little gloved hand flauttered froam the window, seeking the hand of her kinsman, and living it a grateful pressure.. In -her present state of hbmelessness and desolation "a little - kindness went a great way' with the" poor 'yotug Lady Sora. , " . ' " -". . The cab'turned into a'quiet itreetnear &tountjoy Square, and drew tip beforp a tall red' brick house, one of a long block f tsimilir swellings. Th cabman sprang town from his box, ran pp thb steps, and rang the bell. Thbn he ca?ne back to th, vehicle. and leisurely opened its door. Mr. Kildare alighted as the house door opened, and a=sisted Nora to the side walk. Then giving her hisi arm, he hurried her up the slippery steps into the dwelling. Alleen; the Lady Nora's maid, followed with bags and parcels. Mr. Kildare and the Lalvy Nora were net in tile hall by a tall, heavy, mascu .ine-locking wmann,, whose deep-set eyes rerarded the young girl with jealous ntentnees. N"or conceived nI instant tnd tnatintive. v.rsion -to-her, feeling ntuitively that this per.on already fAlt tepicious of her and unfriendly toward " This ins MI. Lifer. my ihousek, eper," Ssid Mr. Kildaro. " Mrs. Liffey. this roung lady is my niece, Lady Nora Zildare. I wish you to regard her as the nistreu of the establishment, and to sonsult her wishes and tastes in every teepect." Mrs. Liffey bowed assent, but rather sullenly. Evidently she had been used o rle supreme, and did not-want i mia c'Show the Lady. Nora.to her room," momuanded the lawyer. ." You gut my telegram and expected us, I see. That is well., The cabman will fetch up the hoae." Mmrs. Liffey turned to Nbra, bidding her follow her, and led the way up a broad staircase to the drawing-room floor. Another Sight of stairs brought them to their destination. The house-keeper conducted the new somer to the front chamber on this floor, Alleen closely following her young mistress. "This is your room," my lady, saii Mrs. Liffey, still with that sullen ex pression of countenance. " Your maid has the small room, without windows, adjoining. Mr. Kildare has the rear room on this floor. I suippose our accommodations look small and mean to you, accustomed as you have been to a whole castle, but this is the pleasantest rootn in the house, and overlooks the street." "It seems very cosy and pleasant," said Lady Nura, gently
-. "Our hoseholdiseryesmall compared to that of KildargOqastle," continued Mrs. Liffey, with the manner of an ill-used person. "We have balt one servant, who is both cook and houisemaid. I have been in charge of the cstabliihment for many years. I am a lady by birth. My father was a physician near Dublin, and my do parted husband was an architect. Bet of course my antecedents cannot interest your ladyship. Although a lady by birth, I hope I know my place; but I wish to say that Mr. Kildare regards me as a reduced gentlewoman, and treats me as such. Dinner will be ready in half. an-hour." With this abrupt announcement, after having let the young stranger know that, although housekeeper, she, nrs. Liffey, was "no menial," the " reduced gentle woman" withdrew, greatly to Lady Nora's relief. Left alone with her maid, the young girl took a survey of her new home. The chamber was wide, long and high, and had three windows, which, as the housekeeper had said, overlooked the street. It was furnished as a parlor, with a new Brussels carpet, a set of chintz-eovered furniture, and a small cottage piano. In an alcove at one side of the room, shut in by long, white curtains, was a low French bed, with lace trimmed pillows and satin coverlet. At one bnd of the room was a large, well polished grate, in which a fire was flaming redly. On a low marble mantel-shelf above the grate two tall wax candles were burning in high, old-fashioned silver caridlesticks. Alleen removed the wrappings of her young mistress, and wheeled an easy chair to the corner of the hearth, into the mingled glow of fire-light and lamp light. The Lady Nora wearily took possession of this senat, saying: "It. seems as if this room had been /prepared in expectation of my coming, Alleen ; or, rather, in the absolute cer tainty of it. The piano yonder was surely bought for me. Mr. Kildare is very kind. He must have known that I could not remain at the castle with those people, and furnished this room for me during the two weeks which passed be tween his first and second visits to Point Kildare." This was indeed the case. Mr. Kil dare had expected his young kinswoman to return to Dublin with him, and had .made due preparations for her residence with him. The trunks were brought up. Alleen proceeded to lay out her young lady's toilet, and Lady Nora, dismissing her 'cares, hastened to dress for dinner. Before the half-hour of grace had ex pired the young girl was dressed richly but simply in a wine-colored dress of poplin, which, with delicate laces and the broad bright sash fashionable at that time, set off her piquant beauty to ad vantage. Sihe then made her way down to the drawing-room. It was untenanted when she entered it. It was a long, narrow apartment, adorned with prim, horse-hair furniture, and had the amused look to be expected in a house' withouta mistress. A bright fire in the grate alone redeemed it from a prison-like or conventual look. Wax lighs burned upon the mantel-piece before a mirror, making thegrimness and idesolation of the room more apparent. The Lady Nora went to. the fire, and leaning with folded arms against the shelf above it, looked drearily down into the dancing flames. She was standing thus, the picture of desolate sorrow, when Mr. Kildare came in. The Dublin lawyer had changed his attire, in honor of his young guest. He was as soft and gentl and ten tender as ever, with beaming smiles nod mild, deprocat= ing manner; but the Lady Nora marked, with inward surprise, that he seemed full of a secret and ill-repressed exultation. He acted like one to whom some great triumph had come, and yet who must bear his joy in secret, no daring to dis play it to the world. "Welcome to my poor house, Lady Nora," he said, with gentle effusiveness. "I hope that you will act as mistress of my household. I am not a poor man, as you know, and you are welcome to make any changes here you please,. If you want more' servants or newer furniture, you have but to mention your desires. If you would like any of the castle servants to attend upon you here, I will send for them.". " Thank you, Michael, but .my wants `are proportioned to my fortune," an swered Nora, smiling faintly. "I thank you for retaining Alleen for me. She will be a great comfort to me.- For the rest I have nothing to ask. I do not want you to enlarge your household for mao. I prefer to live quietly." "It. may be as well for you to live quietly for the present." remarked the lawyer. "But such a course is not com pulsory. I htaveno one to care for but you, Noia, and what I have will cone to you at my deat.!. 'Lady Kathleen ex pressed tome her.wish to divide hI r own forthne with you, hut that cannot be done. Her husband put in a decided objection. She is no longer free to carry Sout her wishes, Nora; as of course you understand. But there is the dinner bell. Let us go down to dinner." - He gave her his arm,. and they pro ceeded down the stairs to the rear r,,m ' on the ground floor.' A bright lire. gas lights, drawn curtains asid a well-spread table made the room seemt, pleasant an"d cheerful. A neat housemaid was in, attendance. frs. Liffey, thehlusekeie-er, was not at hand, and Nora took her place as mistress of the house. After dinner MIr. Kildare escorted hlis young relative back. to the drawing room They spent an hour or (lore inl conversation, and the Lady Nora retired to her room. The next day Sir Russel Ryan and'Mr.: Wedburn called on the deposed hrire.a, and SirRussel took occasion to urge the. young girl to reconsider her rejection of Redmond Kildsre. Finding her tirm in her constancy to Lord ()'Neil. he soon after took his departure with his friend, lamenting the obstinney of omeren. I The days that followed were almost barren of incident to Lady Nora. She settled easily into her new posi tionl, and cultivated a bright a,-, htp,''ul spirit. She wrot-, two or three lettern to her lover, atd also to Lady Kat?hleen. g She had two or three drives with Mr. Kildare, one of them on the Circular noad. and visited tile Phuenix Park and the Zoological Gardens. d A fortnight thus dragged slowly away. One pleasant afternoon the Lady N',ra r retutrned from a brisk walk rourd the neighboring square about dusk. Tiii house was not yet lighted, and the outer door, through some neglect, was tenm t porarily ajar. The young girl entered without ringing, and went upastairs to the drawing-roum door. The corridor wasfull of shadows. The drawing-room door was closed, but the door of the apartment in its rear was open.