|Newspaper Title||Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||The Rival Claimants|
fl oveltzt. The Rival Claimants. - - -- - - -+ . -.- -- By MRS. HARRIET LEWIS. Au th,, " 7 lSursu.remed 1rarte," "'*t Baclif's Shene,' " he Double Life," CHAPTER XXIV.-(CoNroNuwo.) There was a long silence. The young Lady Nora covered her face with her hands. At last she spoke: " Go on," she said, inastrange voice. "Yes, my lady. Mr. Kildare said that I must steal the key to your room, and not let my mother know of your intended escape. - He did not want her to know his plans. He's a cantions man, is Mr. Kil dare. He said I was to open the door and go in and offer to rescue you out of pity. He said you would be sure to fly with me. Then I was to take you to the sea coast, where I was to have a boat hired and in readiness." " This boat is hired, then I it is not your own?" "No, it's not mine. I hired it yester day of the man we found on board last night: Mr. Kildare gave me the money to payhim." '" Ai ' And what Ia ?". .."On reaching the blcta. wer to.o uit-.cWo-wr.""een s alreo .ens's' 'Ve- re 'not, liesj , for England, thien'?" said the Lady yora, still in that ictange voice. " No, Mr. Kildare said yoi would be wearied and worn, and would soon fall asleep. While you were asleep, I was to toes you overboard I I was then to re tern to Dublin and keep silence, while he would make loud inquiries after you and loed lamentations about your unknown fate 1" The terrible gloom on the girl's fair brews lifted.. Into her despairing horri fied'eyes crept a quick gleam of light. A heavenly smiled gatheredaboutherlovely month. "You rescued me, as he ordered." she said; "you took me to sea in a boat--I fell asleep-and you did not drown me. Yo,,u have let me live. Yeou have even betrayed to me all the plans of your would-be employer I Oh, Mr. Fogarty, I dared to doubt you while you were telling me this story I Ifeared and dreaded and despaired I But you pretended to obey Michael Kildare only that you might save me I You knew that he would find some other way to destroy me if you utterly re cised to do his bidding l And while pretending to carry out his villainous schemes, you are befriending me and tak ing me to my guardian." She drew near to him in a glow of gratitude, and raising one of his hairy, dirty hands from'he tiller, she clasped it in both her own dainty pink palms, pres-. sing it fervently. Fogarty drew his hand away with some confusion. "I'm not so good as you think," he said, roughly. "I don't mean to kill you, my lady. But I'm a'poor man end can't afford to lose by you. I wantto make my fortune out of you." The girl retreated a few paces. S ' " am poor and friendless," she said, "My jewels are in Michael Kildare's house. They are valuable, but they are beyond my reach." " Just so," said Fogarty, coolly. "And you've got no money ?" '' Only a little in my pocket." "' You've gota rich lover. maybe?" "No." replied the Lady Nora, lierface as pale as the dead. "M'y lover is poor -poorer than I. because he is in debt." ' Sir Russell Ryan is ric, 'perhaps l" ~i ! No ;'and he has S large family de pendent on him. He has nothing to Sspend on me." S",Then there's only one way you can :pay me for letting you live. You must tell me this secret of Michael Kildaro's. He has got money, and I will get asharo of it by trading on his secret." " And if I tell you ?" "You may live." "And you will take me to England ?" "Yes. twill land you at Southport." The girl hastened, spurred on by hier terrible fears, to tell her enemy of the secrets she had learned-how, when she was hidden in the little alcove off Mllichael fKildare's library,. he had come in with Redmond Lord Kildare-lhow thle two had talked, and how the ]awy-'r had told thenew erarl that lie knew of a flaw in the - claims of the latt, r, by virtue of which the. earldom and rstates might. he wrested from him and rentorod to the Ladyr IMfo."
'¶What' is that law " demanded FP o garty. ": don't know. f' But -my guardian, Sir Rus'iial Iyan; will use every exertion to discover it anid?toirestore to me my rights I'" - ' " Hum I .Your knowledge can only benefit you and not me," said Fogarty. "The se~ret don't amount to much, after all, to anpoutsider. Micihael Kildarewould laugh in my face ifI went to him trying to borrow money on the ground of a flaw in Lord Kildares claims. 'What's Kil dare to me?' he would ask. 'And if there's a flaw find it-prove it I' Is this all the secret there is ? " Yes, it is 11l l" " That lawyer didn't mean to kill you for overhearing that! He's got other reasonn. Or else there's something be hind all 'this I can't understand. But, mn) lady, I can't take you to England I" ''ot take me to England ? Yuu pro mised -" " What's a promise? A brenth of aTr. I am not such a fool as to let loose a wit-` ness who could set upon me the' hounds of the law I Besides, I have other plans.: I can make more money by keeping you in my possession. Michael Kildare, so long as he knows you are alise and in my keeping will be under my thumb I Your secret to not merchantable, hbut you are., niy lady I I may make a big thing out of this business by simply keeping you my prisoner. And I will do it l" :Heset his lips together grimly. The ?Idy Nora'i heart-.·brave though it. was: p-sanka to the depths- of an awful' deslr CHAPTER XXV. GnULT CONFHOBTIJD. As we have said, the dog-cart which the young Lady Nora had seen, and had so nearly encountered, in her flight with Fogarty from Clondalkin, was occupied by her lover and her maid, the faithful Alleen Mlahon. After her secret -visit ofinspection to Yew Cottage, on the night of Michael Kildare's latest visit to his imprisoned ward, Alleen had walked back to Dublin, and had, at the earliest possible moment, made her way to a telegraph office, from which she had dispatched a message of the most urgent description to Lord O'Neil, bidding him hasten to the rescue of her young mistress. It had so happened that the major domo of "Castle Ruin-the consequential O'Lafferty--was in the little town when the message arrived, and it had been transferred to him by the usual messen ger, who was only too glad to be relieved of the hard ride to Glen O'Neil. O'Lafferty had returned home at his horse's best speed, and delivered the tolel gram to his young master, and the latter had net out for Dunloy with scarcely an instant's delay, happily arriving in time to catch a slow train to Belfast. From Belfast he had come on to Dublin by the mail train, and had arrived at the Dublin station at a late hour of the same evening -the evening of the Lady Nora's pre tended rescue by Fogarty. On alighting at the station he looked around him sharply and anxiously, in the hope that Alleen would be there to meet him. This hope was realised, for even while he looked, with increasing anxiety, a shrinking, dark-robed figure, which had been standing among the distant shadows, a little apart from the crowd, come timidly forward, accosting him shyly. It was Alleen Mahon, but was so worn and wan and anxious that Lord O'Neil scarcely recognised her until she epoke ? Alleen l'?he cried in tone of ref, for you. Yon expecte me on as train 1" "Yes, my lord. I was sure you would be here to-night. I have been waiting here a full hour." "And the Lady Nora, Alleen ?" ex elaimed Lord O'Neil, looking at the girl with anxious, burning gaze. "I could make nothing of your telegram, except thatyouryoung mistress is in trouble." "Hush, my lord !" whispered Alleen, looking about her keenly. "I have a dog-cart in waiting outside. Let us hasten to it, and as weo o along I will tell'you the whole story.' "But why not take a cab ?" " Because we want no driver to hear us and hinder us," returned Alleen. " We must be alone when I tell you what I have to say. Come, my lord." Lord O'Neil, silent and amazed, fol lowed his guide from the station into'the street. Here a dog-cart, in charge of an old man, was.found to be waiting. Hie lord ship discovered that Alleen had made all due arrangements for the use of horse and vehicle, and as the driver descended to the ground, Lord O'Neil assisted Al leen to a seat, and followed her, driving down the street. "Which way shall I go, Alleenl".he asked. "Toward Mountjoy Square " " No, my lord : you must drive straight to Clondalkin. Do you know the road?" "I know it well," answered his lord ship. "lBut why are we going to Clon dalkin ! What is all this. - mystery, Alleen ? Why do we not go directly to the Lady Nora ?" _ " My lord," said Alleen, "I wrote you a letter over a week since-" . " I have received no letter from you, Alleen, nor from the Lady Nora.". "You do not know, then, that my poor young lady has disappeared ?" "Disappeared I" echoed Lord O'Neil, in a tone of horror-" disappeared !" "Yes, my lord. I wrote you about it, but theletter must have been intercepted. I see it all nol I" said Alleen, her thoughts recurring to the treacherous house-maid at Mr. Kildare's. " My lady has been gone nearly three weeks i" The surprise and consternation of Lord O'Neil at this announcement was beyond description. But not yet couldhe'realise or fully comprehend the enormity of the girl's communication. " Has the Lady Nora left Dublin 1" he asked. "Yes, my lord. I'll tell it as it happened. One afternoon, nearly three week's ago; my lady went out for a walk around the square. She took a letter with her to post-a letter to you, my lord. The day was dull and gruesome, but my lady was bright and cheerful as she always was. She went down the stairs singing, and I ran to an upper windowr to look after her, as she w ent down the street, so slender and graceful and beautiful that everybody turned to look at her. And that's the last I ever saw of hler, my lord !" Lord O'Neil nearly dropped the reins, in his astonishment and hlorror. " She never r'tur',ed to her guardian's then 2" hle demanded, his face growing white. " Yes. my ,lord ; she came back just at dusk, but the house-maid didn't see her,
ncr I didn't see her. She didn't come up to her room, and must have dropped into the library, where she spent a good many hours while Mr. Kildare was at his office. No'one saw her go into the library, and no one saw hercome out. But the honso maid said that Mr. Kildare and Lord Kildare-the new earl you know-came in and went up to the library soon after the drawing-room gas was lit. And the house-maid says that, a while after, the library bell rang sharp for Mrs. l.iffey, the house-keeper. and Mrs. Liffey went up. And it must have been an hour after that that Mrs. Liffey came to me and said that the Lady Nora would sit up late, and that I was to go to bed, which I did, sup po.,ng my lady had ordered it. A little before midnight I was awakened by hear ing a light step in my lady's room. I supposed it was my lady, especially as my door.was closed softly, as if to prevent my awakening. It was like my lady's thoughtful kindness. The steps died out after a little, but about midnight I heard a cab go away from the house. I sup posed that Lord Kildare was taking his departure, and so turned over and went to sleep. "Oh, if I had only guessed the truth that my lady was in the cab. In the morning, when I got up as usual and went out into the Lady Nora's room, I fourd it unoccupied. Her bed had not been slept in. Her clothing was littered about in confusion, and one of her trunks was gone from the closet. I ran down stairs bewildered and half frantic. Mrs. -Liffey came'out of her room, cold and domineering, as usual, and asked the cause of my excitement. And then she said that the my lady had been summoned at a late hour by a telegram to her step sister at Ballyconnor, and that she had net out immediately and alone !" Lord O'Neil had listened to this narration with breathless excitement. Now he drew a long breath as he ex claimed : "AAnd you have been exciting yourself in this way, my good Alleen, when you know your mistress to be at Bally connor ?" Alleen shook her head. "She is not there," she said. "I believed Mrs. Liffey's tale at first, until I made the discovery that there was no train to Wicklow at the hour mentioned. Then I took-the alarm and wrote to the Lady Kathleen, and she answered me that my lady had not been to Bally sonnor." . " Not been there?" "?No, my lord. Then I wrote to you, and that very day Mrs. Liffey discharged me. I would not go back to Point Kil dare, but went to a little inn, where I have stayed since. While I was at Mr. Kildare's house I overheard Mr. Kildare and Mrs. Liffey say something about 're ducing the Lady Nora to submission.' And the housemaid said one day that Mrs Liffey had a sister living at Yew Cottage, Clondalkin. And I put two and two together, and made up my mind that my poor young mistress is a prisoner at Clondalkin." "But, such a conclusion is far-fetched, and unreasonable, Alleen. Mr. Kildare lo:c his ward, and could have no object in imprisoning her." "Mr. Kildare may love his ward, but he is not the milk-and-honey sort of man people believe him," asserted Alleen. "I have used my eyes lately, and I have dis covered him to be cruel and pitiless, and that he has a will ef iron. He has set hbs heart on my lady's marrying the new Earl of Kildare, and he may have shut her up to compel her to yield to his wishes. Last night I went out to Yew Cottage to find out what 1 could, and while I was lurking in the garden Mr. Kildare sslmo and was admitted into the house. "Hetayed there calong time..ancd -hiallyy e'taway asmygteerously as he came. Why should he visit Yew Cottage but to see my Lady Nora 1" The girl's astounding communication, and her air of perfect conviction m an nouncing her conclusions, inspired Lord O'Neil with a similar belief. And yet it was hard to believe that the slender little Dublin lawyer, with his gentle ways, his soft, weak voice, his mild eyes, and his great, benevolent forehead, could have developed into the cruel tryant Alleen believed him, They drove on swiftly. At the junc tion of the roads near Clondalkin, Lord O'Neil looked after the light waggon in which his betrothed uas being borne from him and safety, but no suspicion that it was the Lady Nora he looked upon came to him. He hurried into Olondalkin, and drove directly to Yew Cottage. He alighted at the gate and secured the horse, while'Alleen sprang to the ground unassisted. The two then horried up the walk, under the shale of the tall, melancholy yews, and Lord O'Neil knocked loudly and impatiently at the front door. Presently, as on the occasion of Michael Kildare'a visit, Mrs, Fogarty put up her window, and protrcided her night-capped head. " Isit you, Mr. Kildare 1" she asked, in a shrill, whisper. T The, neighbors will hear you.. I'll be down in an instant." She drew in her head without having detected the presence of Alleen on the steps, or that her visitorwas not the Dub. lin lawyer., A little later, the couple outside heard her coming heavily down the stairs. TThen followed a groping at the door, which at last swung slowly on its hinges, and Mrs. Fogarty appeared on the thres hold, habited in a skirt- and .short gown. "Anything the matter, Mr. Kildaro I" she whispered:. " The girl-" - Lord O'Neil quietly put her aside, and stepped into the hall, into the full glare of the one tallow candle, which had been deposited on the hall shelf. Alleen glided after him like ashadow. Mrs. Fogarty sprang back with a:r r of terrer. "Not Mr. Kildnyo I" she cried, "Oh, help I Murder I Thieves I" Alleen closed the outer door. Mrs. Fogarty gazed around her like a mad woman. " Hush I" said Lord O'Neil, in a stern, colmanding voice. "I am not hero to harm you, woman e" Mca. Fogarty Ihushed her cries. shrink ing back acacinut the wall. Somehow tlhe Ihandsome young lord, with his stern blue eyes, inspired her withi a deadly terror. " rllWt do you ant " slhe stammecred, hr creethc chattering. " Vchv do you cocne to my house at thils hour, and me a :poor, lone widdy woman c 'c "c1 am come to see the Ledy Nora Kil dare "' replied Lord O'Ned, fixing his stern gaze: upon her. " I demand to see her instantly I" Mrs. Fogurty uttered an involuntary cry. She looked at once'terrified and defiant. "There is no such person here l" ishe oexclaimed. " I know nothlin'abuoutrour
Lady Nomas .Lsave my house or I will call fulr help I"': . "I have reason to believe that the Lady Nora is here, and I intend to resolve my doubts before I leave the housel" said the young lord, firmly. "Your own words have confirmed my belief. I shallgo up stairs and look for myself." lHe moved toward the staircase. With a bound like "a tigress, Mrs. Fogarty dashed past him and flew up the stars. "Tim I Tim I" she panted. "Wake up, Tim I Fire I Murder I Thieves 1" Lord O'Neil took up the candle and sped swiftly up the stairs, arriving at the landing at the moment that Mrs. Fogarty burst into her son's room and found it empty. " tle' gone l" cried the woman, rush ing out again. "Go back I Go back, I say! Where's the police 1 I'll call the neighbors 1" At this juncture her frantic gaze rested upon the key that had been left by Fogarty in the lock of Nora's room. With a swift movement she flung open the door of the dark room, and found it like her son's room, empty. Her cry of rage ran througonh the house. " It's Tim's work I" she exclaimed. "He's cheated mel He's robbed me! He's rescued the girl-the unnatural son I He's robbed me of a fortune I" While she was thus uttering her wild lamentations, Lord O'Neil and Alleen passed into the dark room with the light. A single glance sufficed to assure them both that it had lately been tenanted by the missing heiress. There was a scarlet ribbon on the floor nhich Nora had worn in her hair. Alleen knew it at once. The Lady Nora's trunk stood in the corner, open, and with a litter of clothing in its dislodged trays. A shawl of hers lay on the little low bed. Lord O'Neil felt a swelling in his throat as he surveyed the little bare cell, so destitute of comfort, so like a prison. "And it was here you shut her up, woman ?" he cried, sternly. " Where is she now I" "I don't know," lamented Mrs. Fogarty. "Wlhere would she be like to go I Oh, I am ruined l' I'm ruined I Mr. Kildare will kill me 1" Lord O'Neil asked himself that ques tion-Where would Nora be likely to go? "To England, of course," he said to himself-" to her other guardian. Sir Russel Ryan." And with this thought came the re membrance of the light waggon he had seen as he approachedClondalrin. Like a flash of light came the conviction that the couple in the waggon were Nora and Fogarty. "Come, Alleen " he said, hastily. "We must be otffatonce. We mayover. take them yet.' Unheeding thelaments of Mrs. Fogarty, ?a hurried down the stairs, out of doors, and to his waiting vehicle, closely followed by Alleen` who climbed into the dog.cart while he untied the horse. Then the young lord sprang in after her, and drove swiftly down the street, comn municating tothe anxious girl his newly formed suspicions as he went. "She probably went to Kingstown to wait for the packet." he said. "We shall find her at a Kingstown hotel." "I think not," said Alleen. "My lady is under age, and she knows her guardian could capture her wherever he could find her, and take her home with him. She would fear that Mrs. Fogarty would discover her escape, and send a messenger to Mr. Kildare. No, my lord, the lady would not dare wait for the packet." "You are right, Alleen. She would embark 'to-night, 'and Fogarty' would go withher.. Nora would not riskthe de Inr She ugsu5ld ;.ilt.from Xtisngtoowis Brack-kRock. We will make for Kings town." . . 'He drove direct to Kingstowni, arriv ing there after midnight. Of course, all inquiries. were futile. Lord O'Neil came speedily to the con clusion that the Lady Nora had notbeen to Kingstown, and he took his course to Black Rock, keeping his jaded horse at a.good rate oe speed. At Black Rock he got track of the fugitive. Securing his horse 'as Fogarty had done, he went with Alleen upon the wharf. A, party of two or three men were in the act of putting off in a small boat to a fishingreaselout in the bay,and in response to Lord O'Neil's interrogato ries, one of the men said: " There was a couple went off in Fla hives' sloop a couple of hours ago ; one of them a rough-looking chap, and the other areal lady. Flahive '11 tell you about them, sir." Securing Fhihive's addrese,Lord O'Neil, accompanied by Alleen, went in search of him. But Flabive, on being discovered and awakened, dashed all of Lord O'Neil'a hopes by informing him that the couple who had engaged his boat were a pair of lovers on their way to Scotland-a sailor and his betrothed wife. The young lord turned away with a sick heart. "We can do nothing more to-night, Alleen," he said. " I will take you to a hotel, and stable the horse. I will then wander about the wharves till daybreak. Something may have occurred to retard the msovements'of this Tim Fogarty, and he may return at any moment." These ideas were acted upon. Aileen was taken to a hotel, and lodgings pro cured for her. The horse was stahled, and Lord O'Neil paced the wharves till daybreak. By that time he was convinced that the fugitives would not appear at Black Rock and procuring a saddle hie rode over to Kingstown. Hero he made the closest investigations, but tono purpose. He visited the hotels, but there was no arrival that might cor respond with the one he sought. Finally ha proceeded-to the pi'oper. office. and telegraphed to Sir Rnssel: Ryan, informing him that the Lady Nora had gone to England, and ldesiring to be informed immediately upon her arrival. Tlen he returned to the pier. The day wore on. The packets sailed, but Michaeol Kildaro, althogh he must have long since heard of his ward's es. cape, did not appear at Kingstown. Lord O'Neil was puzzled that the lawyer loeok' no steps to recover or intercept the flight, of his ward. (roe ae cosvmcs.) Tae Christian religion gives us a more lovely idea of God sthan any religion ever did. --Tillotson. Wnue tbs tosgne is lbe weapon, a man may strite where he cannot reach, anda word shall do exeoution both farther and deeper than the mightiest blow.--South. Asutnmnr is, aesording to thu spirit is which it is pursued, an infamy, a pastime, a day labor, a hbndioralt, an art, a snience, os a virtue.--A. W. So ileoel.