Chapter 65654997

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Chapter NumberXXI.-(CONTINUED.)
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Full Date1891-11-27
Page Number4
Word Count3233
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleFitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)
Trove TitleThe Rival Claimants
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The Rival Claimants. By MRS. HARRIET LEITIS. Author of " The Sundered Hearts.' " Tie Badilf's Scheme," " The Doule Life,' Eft., Etc. CHAPTER XXI-(CocIrNrUEDo.) " I left a man on board my sloop, my lady," said Fogarty. "He'a a part owner, and takes chargi when I'm absent. iBut he can't go along this voyage, on account of his family." "It's just as well,? interposed the Lady Nora. "I am sure that you can manage the sloop alone." " Oh, yes, my lady, I always do," said the pretended sailor. "But it occurred to me you might feel afraid to put to sea with me alone-that you might be afraid of me like l" "Afraid of you who have rescued me from a terrible imprisonment-perhaps from a terrible fate al" cried the young heiress, warmly. " "No, indeed, Mbr. Fogarty: I trust you as I would trust a brother I You have shown your kind, good' heart too plainly for meto fear you ". "I am only. an ignorant .chap," ob served Foijarty, after an embarrassed pause.. .' You wouldn't think, to look at me, my lady, and hear me speak, that I am the grandson of a gentlemans Yet I am. My. grandfather was a physidacn. His younger daughter married an archi tect named Liffey. and lived like a lady. She is Mr. Kildare's housekeeper, and I wouldn't wonder, to judge from w'et mysmother says, if she were some day to he Mrs. Michael Kildare. My aunt can play the grand lady to perfection. The doctora, elder daughter married a man of inrorior social rank, a thriftless, jolly, drinking fellow, named Tim Fogarty. I was the offspring of that marriage. My father died when I was a child, and my cmiother made her living by various humble ways. My aunt, Mrs. Liffey, took a finey to me and sent me to school, and I git a decent education. I wanted to be :t doctor like my grandfather, but fate was too strong for me. Being of a roving disposition," he added, with ironical em phasis and concealed meaning-having reference to his transportation at govern maent expense to a penal colony-" I set ',ut to see the world. And I saw itl Did you ever hear of me, my lady-of \lra. Liffey's nephew, Tim Fogarty ?" "Never,'t replied the young Lady Nora. " I know very little of Mrs. Liffey, very little of Michael Kildare ' househeld. While papa lived 1 used to visit Dublin of en, but we stopped at a hotel, except once, when we stayed a whole season, and papa took a house. And since papa's death I lived on at Kil dare Castle with my step-sister, as papa desiredme todo. Hesaidhe wishedme to grow up amon, the Fenantry, to know them all intima'- !y, to win their love,and to love them all in return. He expected .me to spend the most of my life at Point Kildare, and he did not want meto gooff to Dublin and get a taste for gayeties, .such as would unfit me for my quiet future. And soit has happneed that I know so little about Mrs. Liffey." "Thatfwae a foolish iuestion of nmine." obarved Fogcrty, wrish a breath of relief. having exparienced a momentary fear that his antecedents were not unknown to the young lady. "How should a great lady like you have heard of a poor fellow like me? But here we are at Black Rock. You still think, my lady, that you had batter go aboard the sloop and set off immediately for Ecug laud? You would not think it better to wait for the packet?" "Oh, no l no l Before the packet sals. Miclhael Kildare will be at Kings town witching for me. Eseape in her would be impossible. It is not as if I were of age. ly only safety lies in going to nightl'" cried the young heiress, impetu ously. Fccgarty smiled grimly under his false heard. "You are right." he said. "You must sail to-night. And you cannot delay, my lady, to procure a woman to at tend upon you. We should be off at once. " Yes, at once." "I was over to Black Rock this morn ing," said Fogarty. " and told my partner I should be off for a voyage to-night. You see, my lady, I made up my mind this morning to rescue you, and so I told Smy partner I ehold bring a young lady aboard to-night--" "You told him that 7 Oh, if be

-hould have betrayed me I He may sus "to. I tookmy precautions. I pre. tended that I was going to elope with a young lady named Flaherty, and the fellow hasn't the ghost of a suspicion of the truth. So, my lady, if you'll just put the veil over your face, my partner will think it's all right and any never a word." The Lady Nora complied with the suggestion, veiling her face. Fogarty drove down the street of the small town, halting near the pier. Here he sprang out, assisting the Lady Nora to alight. He secured his horse to a convenient post, and, taking his basket of provisions in his hand, he conducted his fair charge down the pier, scanning the adjacent bay with keen glances. The sloop he had engaged lay near at hand, ready to sail. A small boat from hier, with the sloop-master in it, lay rock ing in the shadow of the pier. There were other small craft in the vicinity, but there was no sign of life about them. E?cep; for the three figures mentioned, the pier and the bay seemed deserted of human beings. "Sloop, ahoy l" returned the man in the row-boat beside the pier, in a similarly cautious tone. "A word with you, my hearty,": said Fogarty. The sloop-master sprang out on the pier, and the two men withdrew a few .paces,.leaving the Lady Nora aline onith and of the pier looking off upont the bay, .wbhose phosphorecent ?leam, m.nd white api shone through the p oile gloo:T'""': "About the security of the -aloofl', whispered Fogarty. keeping an eye upon the slender, dainty figure at a little dis tance, with floating hair and garments blowing in the wind. "Here'sthe watch I' promised," and he handed over his mother's greatest treasure, an old fashioned gold watch, which he had purn loined' during the day at a convenient moment. "And for greater security," he added, " there's my horse and wagpon on the street there, which, if you"l keep till I come back-" "That I wall I" cried the sloop-master, well pleased. "I'll take the horse and waggon and drive home, and you can be off in the sloop. Or shall I go aboard with ye?" "No. Is there water aboard ?" " Water and provisions in plenty. Ye said nothing about them, and thinks 1, 'Lovers is fools,' begging your lurde,. and won't think of such a thing as a wiInd contrary, or being becalmed, or blown out of her coorse,' says I to myself, and so I made boold to put a shtore of things aboard, which you'll find 'em in the locker." . "I'll make it all right when I get back," said Fogarty. "And now I'm off. Good-bye." The two men separated, the saloop master putting the gold watch in his pocket, and hastening to ascertain the value of the horse and waggon left. as additional security for the sloop, and Fogarty hurrying to the row-boat, a rope from which was secured to the pier. "Now, my lady," he said. The slender, girlish figure turned and came toward him, the pale and lovely young face I1 hidden under the folds of her veil. , "I've got. rid of my partner, said Fogarty, puttinig his basket into theboat, and assisting the Lady Nora to follow it. He don't suspect ever a, bit. We are safe, my lady, for which the saints be praised." , I asprang into the boat and pushed away from the pier with an oar.. Then he rowed rapidly oward the sloop. - They were soon alongside. Fogarty steadied the row-boat against the sloop's seide, and the Lady. Nora climbed over into the larger vessel. "I'll have to'let this boat trail after us," said Fogarty, dropping his basket over into the sloop. "I'll make her fast." He hastened to do so, securing the loose end of the rope attached to the row boat to the stern of the sloop, and then crept cautiously into the larger vessel. . "Now we'll be off I", he said, pulling up the anchor. " The sails 'il catch the breeze in a minute. Ah, here she takes us!" The sloop'gave a lurch and a hound as the wind swelled her sails, and moved slowly out into the bay. . J The Lady Nora sat down, holding to the vessel's side. The sloop was a small affair, of some five or ten tons burden, and had been built exclusively for pleasure parties and excursions. She had a half-deck, occupy ing one-third of her hull. The cabin under this half-deck was too low and small for sleeping purposes, and served as a pantry and locker. The remaining two thirds of the vessel comprised simply an open space, around which ran a cnshioned divan. When the sun shone there was an awning to serve as a roof over the passengers, but this awning of sail-cloth was now of course hidden away under the half-deck. Fogarty unreefed his sails, the sloop swung around to her course, pointing her nose directly out into the bay, and toward St. George's Channel, and began to move like a horse warming to the race. " Afloat ! afloat I' the girl murmured. "Wears leaving the dangerous land." Yes, but to embark on the more dangerous sea. Of all the perils that had ever threatened her young life, the darkest was gathering about her now. The girl looked back at the receding shores of the Irish coast, all her sorrow, all her anguish and the light of a great hope shining in her sunny brown eyes. "Farew,-ll, dear old Ireland I" she -whispered. softly. , "I leave youa poor, homel'es fugitive. I will come back to you to resume my old place, and to take up again my old honors," Fogartv took his place at tlhe tiller, and sank into a respectful silence, addressing now and then some ohserva tinn ah~lut their course to the girl passenger. Th.y swept on with increasing speed. The light low on the shore died out from view. The gleam from the Bailey light house offHowth Head grew brighter and brighter. The lights from the ships in Duhlin hay also faded, The sloop was out in the midst of the white caps and the phosphorescent gleams, and was bounding forward like some living creature, the light spray dashing from her howsprit, and coming now and then in a s)hllwer over her aides. An hoor-two hours passed. Ta- ahllre had long since disappeared behind them. The light gloom had settled down all around them. A strange I.nelineso , a mighty desolation seemed bronding over the restless waters. The young Lady Nora gave herself up to her dreamy yet hIopeful thoughts. She was weak from her long imprisonment anid hier miserable, meagre prison fare. She was weary with her ride and the excitements of the night. And so, by and by, the little glossy head drooped to the low bulwarks. the sunny eyes closed

wearily, and' ver the pale, .aorrowig I young face crept the peacefll unconscious nets of slumber. Fogarty's eyes gleamed with a wicked sense of power, as he lifted them toward her in,.a ulln gaze. - "Asleep I" he muttered. "If was to keep to my bargaiil-with Mr. Kildare. this is as geod a place as any to chuck her overboard. Perhaps I'd better. I'd have a hold on the lawyer then, and he'd have to pay me well. But he'd have a tighter hold on me. How could I prove that he hired me to kill his ward? He might have tme arrested for the murder. The girl's a prize in the right hands. 'She knows too much' about Mr. Kildare to love. She must enlighten me. I can make my fortune out of her, and I mean to do it. You won't go to England, nor to Sir Russel Ryan. my lady, nor yet to any place you'd like. You are in my power, and your life and death are in my hands. Whether you live or die I shall decide, and I haven't made up my mind fully yet. And where I shall take you I don't yet know." 'He chuckled grimly. Then he de liberately altered the course of the sloop, and they went bowling over the waters toward the north. Alas I poor Lady Noras 1 : CHAPTER XIL "., DIcovERED. . orlg' the week-of-th aLady Nora's imprinonmennt in Yew Cottage at Clon dlkiiii;' o prominent' inbideont had occurred in the desolate life of the -Lady Kathleen Bassaotyne, at Bally conner.' She remained much in her own rooms, alone or with her maid, whose conm panionship was her chief solace at this lonely and sorrowful period. Shei walked daily alone in her gardens, tall and fair and stately, richly robed, and envied by her people, but in her heart always crouched the demon, care. She seldom met Bassantyne, save at the table. He never intruded himself into her apartments. He contracted the habit of lounging in the' drawing room; which he had to himself. He ippropristed a pretty oval-shaped room, known as the cedar parlor, as his amok ing-roon, and there he spent hours. He catechised Delaney, the steward, by the hour concerning the Lady Kathleen's revenues, and trid to ingratiate himself with Mrs. Delaney, the housekeeper, for a similar purpose. But the worthy couple were uncommunicative, referring him for the information he desired to their mistress. It was fully understood at the Hall by this time that the Lady Kathleen's mar ia'ewtvith Bassantyne'had not been a love niath. Her ladyship's maid, Mary, had let fall a few remarks that pointed toward the true state of affairs, for the girl was sadly distressed concerning her beautiful nmilsfess, and sadly afraid of Bassan tynie. ' Nevertheless, as the maid knew little or nothing beyond the bare facts of the fraudulent marriage, and as she for bore to tell all she knew, it was supposed in the household that the bridegroom possessed qualities that had appealed to the Lady Kathleen's ambition, such as lofty connections and great wealth, al though her ladyship possessed both of these in such high degree that she could well have permitted herself to marry any ozie'she' had liked. But gradually a feeling against "the mater' grew up in the household. The dark face and sinister, gloomy eyes of' Bassantyne repelled' others as they repelled his bride. His strange ways, too, aroused the dislike and sus picion of the Delaneys. * He seemed at tames to be afraid almost of his shadow. He would look over his shoulder with wide and glaring eyes. He would start at an unexpected sound, and would swear violently at a servant for approaching him without noise. It was as if he expected to find at any moment the stern grip of a pursuer on his shoulder. These eccentricities grew upon him as the days passed, and still his valet, the so-called M1urple, did not make his ap pearance. He took to reading voraciously the police items in the Dublin dailies, al most expecting to find some notice of Muirple's arrest, at the instigation of Lame Bill. Sometimes he hoped that his fellow fugitive had been killed in some drunken brawl, and often he fancied that his late comrade might be playing him false and intending to betray him. It was not a pleasant life, by any means. B.issantyne learnt now, if never be fore, that the path of guilt is full of thorns. Not all the grandeur of being the acknowledged husband of Lady Kathleen and the master of Conner Hall, not all the satisfaction of riding a magnificent hunter through the streets of Ballyconnior and being greeted on every side with profound respect, could pay Bassantyne for his sleepless nights and anxious days. He grew haggard and nirvous' and hollow-eyed. He loaded his pocket pistols daily, firing them at a mark, and acquiring a deadly practice. He watched the post-bag with eager attentiveness, looking for a letter from Fogarty, or iMurple, as he preferred to call him, but the letter did not come. At last ihe grew desperate. Ono afternoon, as he stood by the 'winidow of his emoking-room, his sallow, features working nervously, he said to himself: "This cannot run on this way much longer. If Murple intends to betray ie, I may have to fly at a minute's notice. And what have I got to fly with T" He took out his pocket-book and in vestigated its contents. They consisted of a five pound bank-note, four sovereins, some pieces of silver, and a few half pence. " Not much capital to go on to the con tinent with!"mused Bassantyne gloomily. " 1 feel as if there was something in the wind. I must see Kathleen and procure some money from her." He tossed his oigar into the grate, combed back his hair with his fingers, tied his cravat anew, and made his way to thie door of the Lady Kathleaen's sitting-room. Here hie knocked nervously. The door was opened, after a brief delay, by her ladyship's maid, Mary. Her ihonest face doelared her surprise at this un-leoked for intrusion. Bassantyno pushed past her roughly, entering the pretty; warmatinted. sitting room. ' 0,0. , 'OI~hi sunlight was pgoring in a golden flood throesh one of the ivide, lace draped windows. A low, red fire was in

the gate. A few ? foeenng plans were on a table by a south window, and above them hung a bird-cage. On a pretty inlaid work the west window some sewing was lying, and beside the table was the Lady Kathleen's low saw ing chair. The room, with its belonging, looked very pure and dainty to the restless eyes of tihe intruder. "Where is the Lady Kathleen T' he arked. impatiently, with a stride to ward the dressing-room. " I want to see her." The maid ran to the door of the dres sing-room, holding it shut. " For shame I" she exclaimed. "To intrude intga lady's room in this man ner bly lady will not like it!" "Where is she, I say T' cried Bassan tyne, in a fury, making as if he would dis lodge the girl from her post by main force. " Where is my wife?" " The Lady Kathleen is gone to walk in the park," answered the maid, alarmed by his manner. Bassantyne turned away abruptly, and descended the stairs. In the lower hall he paused to get hishat,which heslouched over his eyes, and he then left the house and crossed the sunny gardens toward the park. As he went, he looked about him on every side, as if expecting to see his maiden bride on one of the pleasant garden seats. But she was nowhere in sight. (To bs Continued.)