|Newspaper Title||Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||The Rival Claimants|
1RoveU aJ - .... B: MRS HARRIET LEWIS. Air ot TAo Sundered Ikads, "Lhts " tBais Schme," " The Double LIfe," i CHAPTER XV.-(Con?rsnui.) .'."Donot'touch me, Miclhael Kildire 1" 'said Nora, ih ' suppreaded' and quivering -voice. i"Do' not lay your finger upon 5i !:?aklse friend I.false guardian! false k?insman'!1 My father trusted you, and 'loved.ti ý I have trusted you, too, and loved' ` nd you have plotted against mypeace?,?connived with my enemies, robbed .me,9fmy inheritance, and now wo~ll:ddeprive me of my liberty. Oh, Michael, it isnworse than all the rest to * learn yoipr treachery." ., Alpiteouna:look. crept into her sternly sorrowful eyes. Even yet, it seemed, she could scarcely believe in his baseness. .. The!moi'ent of weakness and faltering hd gone' h? for Lichael Kildare. SHA'e6ftfulllips, hardened into acruel eihile! iHi .eyes, hthat had aliways looked so beignktlyupon his noble young kins wromn, shone with a herd glitter. His mild, biesvolenit face glowed with an ex-' pre siri of; triumph and:malevolent de S,:You.are:theatrical, Nora," he said, the words sounding strangely when ut tered'iinrthise gentle, mellifluous voice. .'SYour denunciations of me are worthy of the stage !. 'I Am surprised at your dins playof temper. You stand to me in the place'of ''daighter, and I ams-bound to do a'fatlier's'part by you. 1 choose to sh'dty'ouii; 'here for your disobedience ficd'oil'sudnyh ; but in the hour you h1ooi'to' aib?nit yourarlf 'to my, will, and ailtp, j 1aii have chosen foryeulyoo shaullreoveyour freedom. ' And with your edom.you shall also recive a hus hand, aloftierlrank and title, wealth, a stately' home,revery' good this world can give.ii My3poor misguided child I I': is for-your goodI am working'now." err1hb Lady NTora put up her hand in a gettp'ri f afi iydissent. A. pained look eorbieied herfeatures,'but iher eyes wne fixed steadily upon her guardian in in .'.. eiael.dare,"she said, solemnly, I ou?at last as you arel Hypo 'crite?'1.,.I"kow, now that your whole life hasbeen.a lie : Under all yohr softness and'sweetnues has been hidden an iron nature. It is like a bank of hardest rock I saw once;iif6athed over with vines and flowers. Under the mask of friendship to i?l?lonuboiehidden a deadly enmity-" "By Heaven,.no, Nora-" " You need not deny it. I shabould not believe your denial. I" see you at last stripped of all the poetry of goodness and softness. Ilk? ow you at last as a viper, and,I to hieod.despise you." .The, bln,;smooth face of the little lawyer reddened. He looked grieved and 'hocikedr tlsrbthan angry. " ?iore'l" li'e said, reproachfully. "'"Mich'el dd notput on that 'look of inijured innibcerice!" raid the Lady Nora, sternly- land 'steadily. "You can no longer iinposeupon me. I know you at last,, ,and she spoke with a slow impres sireness.-c1as you are!, I know, too, ihat this young man, now known as the Eti'l of Kildare, but in. whose elaim ieista some secret defect known only to you-iI intiow thathe is but a cat's-paw in yourlihaiid l ' You stand behind him creater than:he, directing his'niovements, euidiing'amnd controlling him I You are like archehs-pla~ err nud this question of the. ownership of Point Kildare is the' game youihave in hand. It has suited yutto advance this man's claims, a:d to pass.him.off to the world as the true and rightful heir,'but you know in your heart that I'am the owner of Kildare." . e" This is noniense, N6ra I" '& "? It is Heaven's un truth I" cried the i. ,, witlisudden'pisionateness. "You ksow that tan no coward. You know tli't Ieninotbe'forced to mary this ,man. You may as well spare yourself the trouble of battei!ipting to coerce me. No amount of.force can ever drive me into an act against which my whole being revolts." iThis in fine talk!" sneered Michael Kildare. "We will test its truth. A girl cannote hold out long against my will. . . -.A change passed over the young Lady LNoi'sTface. A passionate pain looked from h'er aad, stern eyes, and showed iitIf labiut her sweet mouth. Despite allher high courage, all her faith in her own?i pinples, she shrank from the nnecl,bcfo;re her. Her grief at herguard ian?o relata hery convulsed her soul anew. t"Iichael, "she said, lifting her hands anidrher piteous eyes to him, "it is not too late to tiirn back I In the name of my dead father, who loved you, Ientreat you to re urn to your dutyl I am willing to forgive you, and overlook your wrong :/ to-m".if y'chbose to repent now. Re itoresme? to my rights, and I will not only bless you, but 1 will reward you. Remember that I am an orphan girl, who wans.copifided to your protection by my tr iiting father. You cannot betray the ti'f oltfie'drad. and wrone the defence
less, withoutfutnre retribution, la mercy , to youriself lnd ile., do.'what: is, right5 Refuse," she added, as she met his cold' impassive, glance, and realised that'hbr pleading had been thrown away, "add when the hour of my triumph comes, as it will come, you may find me also merit less." -The lawyer's lip curled. i "This is mere child's talk," he said. "When your ' hour of triumph' ceomes you will be Countess of Kildare, and will thank me for my present firmness. As to all your accusations, they are but the accusations'. of an .unreasoning, childish anger. I hope, when I come to see you, to find you in a bettor spirit. Now, if ' you please, we will go up to your room" H e laidhis small fat, soft hand on her arm, about which it closed like a vi: ce. In obedience to a nod from him, Mrs. Liffey seized the girl's other arm. ': Mrs. Fogarty, taking her extra light, bade tlhenfollowher, and led the way usi stairs. The lawyer and his housekeeper half 1 led, half carried the young girl between' them up to thi second story. - "' This way, M. Kildare," said Mrs. Fogarty, taking her way to a rear cha-m ber. "This is my lady's room. 'Tisa't much of a chamber for one that's used to suites of rooms in a big castle, but she can leave it for the castle any day she likes I" " Thedark rooml"exclamedMrs. Liffey, aprovingly. "A good idea, Catherine. I'd like to see my Lady Nora escape from that." Mrs. Fogarty threw open the door of .th rear room and passed in, holding the light well above her head. The law~yer and M-rs. Liffey followed her with their struggling captive. The room was small, being about nine feet square. It.was simply the end of the hall partitioned off. It had been used by various occupants of the house as a dark bedroom, as a lumber-room, and as a store-room. It was now furnished barely and simply as a bedroom. It had no 'vindows, but was supplied meagerly with light through a small glazed ventilator over the door. The floor was covered with a threadbare carpet. There was a straight-backed chair of uncomfort able shape, a small table, and a narrow, low, iron bedstead, upon which was a hard, though clean and freshly-draped bed. Nors's trunk had been brought up by Mrs. Fogarty, and stood against the wall. Meagre and bare and dismal, with no outlook, with only the bare walls on every side, and no gleam of light save what struggled in from the hall, this was a ter rible prison for the luxuriously-bred young heiress of Kildare Castle. Yet she walked into it proudly, when once she had beei thrust within its por tals, as a queen might walk to her throne. Whatever hcrsecret terror and anguish, she did notchoose to betray them to those vulture eyes. " Itis not too late to yield, Nora," said the lawyer, softly and pityingly. " I would save you this ternible ordeal-this fearful experience. Men have gone mad in windowless dungeons like this. M?y poor Nora, you have but to say the word to be restored to the light and to liberty I" "I prefer darkness and imprisonment to a loveless marriage," said the Lady Nora, coolly. '"Then you shall have a full trial of them," said Michael Kildare, hastily. "Mrs. Fogarty," he added, turning to - thatwoman; who was standing with arms akimbo, "when the Lady Nora yields, and.promises"solemnly' to marry',Lird: Kildareo'I desise-you toi put her'innb better chamber at once, and to send a messenger to me, with a sealed letter de claring her submission. On the receipt of such a letter. I shall come at once. Anid now, Nora," he concluded, again addrea sing his young kinswoman, "I will say good-bye." He moved toward her, all seeming pity, tenderness and benevolence, as if to em brace her. The Lady Nora regarded him in a haughty surprise. "Do not touch me 1" she said, quietly. "I am no longer imposed upon. I want none of your hypocritical caresses, you wolf insheep's clothing." The lawyer qauiled before the indignant fire of her eyes, and without a wordstole silently out of the room. Mrs. Liffer, with a swaggering, supercilious air, and with a menacing look at the captive, fol lowed him. Mrs. Fogarty took" up the streaming candle and went out last, halt ing outsido to close and-lock the door. Then the young LadyNorain her close, dark prison, in the centre of which she stood with gleaming white face, and wide dilated eyes, heard her three enemies go down the stairs, and watched through the ventilator over the door the fading gleams of their departing light. And a few minutes later, still standing there, she heard her enemies depart, heard the rattling of the bolts and chains on the outer door, and heard MI. Fogarty tramp heavily up the stairs to .her own room. CHAPTER XVI. Toa rFUorov AJaatED. While these events were transpiring, and changing- the whole course of the Lady Nora's existence, where was she who loved the young heiress with more than a sister's tenderness ? Where was the un fortunate Lady Kathleen 1 On parting with her step-sister at the Droghteda railway station in Dublin, the Lady Kathleen, as has been said,: enteited acab with Bassantyne and her maid, and rode directly to a hotel. Bassanrynes fellow-fugitive from justice sat upon the box with the driver, and on arriving at the hotel he escaped her observation in the mist and fog of the gloomy night. A suite of rooms was speedily secured, and the Lady Kathleen, accompanied by her maid, retired to her own private apartment. Bassantynoe, attended by the man who acted as his valet, departed to his own quarters, which were aportion of her ladyship's suite. The doors between were, however. locked, and the Lady Kathleen put the key in iher pocket. The small parlor with bedroom adjoin ing, which had been assigned to the young bride, was very bright and cheerful. There was a fire in the grate, and the gas was burning in the cluster of ground-glas globes which depended from the ceil One of the Lady Kathleen's trunks wao brought up, and MIary unpacked it. Her young mistress then removed iher damp outer garments and donned a pair of pink velvet slippers and a pink cash mere dressing-gown, and loosened her damp yellow hair, permitting it to flow in a goldten mass over hier shoulders, after the mann r of the Lady Nora. She til6n drew up a chair to the fire and warmed her hands over the blaze.