|Chapter Title||A LETTER DELAYED TOO LONG.|
|Newspaper Title||The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950)|
|Trove Title||A Terrible Wrong|
A TERRIBLE WROXG.
Br Mrs. Harriet Lewis. Author of '? The Double Life.' Lord Durhvaod's Crime,' §r.
CHAPTER VI. A LETTER DELAYED TOO LONG
It. was late in June,wavm,balmy, and delightful. Tlie upper room that had belonged toQueenie had been closed .all these . jeara. The dust lay thick on the pretty trinkets the mother had gathered there so long ago for her darling. The room was never visited,
and John Bedburn's children were wont to pass the door quickly, believ ing it haunted. Old Mrs. Redburn sat, in the parlour, as the family sitting room was wont to be called. The furniture was black with age, the carpet Avas worn to thread-bareness. A tall clock ticked in the corner. A chest of drawers, with brass handles, stood near it. A few silhonoifps in t.lir.
Mngy walls comprised the art dis V. The room was bare and cleso j,_ and only the open casement /viuiows preserved it from absolute ugliness. It was not a room to live in, but rather a. shelter from the inclemency of the weather. Old Mrs. Rerlbnrn's appearance was in keeping with the room. She hud grown gaunt during these years, but was as commanding and author itative as ever. Her eyes ' were sunken, her chin projected* her hair was white as snow. Grim as the Sphinx, with cold, hard, stern eves, ,...??1.1. j.i * -, j i
muii mm, compressed lips, and haughty head, she seemed to have outlived all human weakness. She loved no one, unless it might be her son. She ruled the household as of Tore, but her grandchildren did not love her, and her daughter in law certainly possessed little affection for her, although the old .lady relieved her of many cares and was always kind to her. Only John Redburn seemed to have any tenderness for heiyand he was a good and affectionate son, try ing in liis way to soften and mitigate the one great sorrow and disappoint ment of her life. John Redburn 's living children were all boys — great, sturdy, rough fellows, brimful of life and strength. Their weak, peevish mother railed at them,' but permitted no one else to do ^ so. In her eyes her boys— lads from twelve to eighteen — were perfect. For them she coveted the grand
mother's little store of money, the old lady having over a thousand pounds, besides her life-interest in the estate. There had been a sum of money in the funds for Queenie, in tended by her father as her marriage portion . ? The interest upon that fund had been expended for the mainten ance and education of young Dolores. The old lady was knitting, her eyes fixed upon the open window, when - her daughter in law entered. Mary Redburn had grown Stout, but she was still fair and freckled, still peevish and fretful, yet, after all, in the main. a good wife and mother. She sat down near a window, a little troubled and anxious. She had something on her mind that for days she had been trvine- to snenl- nf W.
her mother in law was always silent and taciturn, and she had not known how to begin. At last she entered upon the sub ject abruptly. ' John had a letter from, Mrs. Watkyn the other day,' shs observed, fumbling with her apron. Old Mrs. Redburn did not even look at her. ' John didn't dare to speak to you on the subject, mother,' continued Mary Redburn. 'But I suppose that you ought to know. The girl De lores had completed her school education, taken all the honours, and r-eceived two or three ? gold medals. And Mrs. Watkyn has brought her to England. She is now at Norwood.' - ' Well,' said the old lady, grimlv, ' what of it ?' ' ? ' Would yon like to see the letter, mother ?' ^ ' No, I would not. How can this girl or her affairs interest me ?' ' I am sure I don't know. I feel the disgrace as much as you do, mot - her,' said Mary Redburn, in' an ag grieved voice. ' The girl does not suspect her relationship to us, and I would not have her know it. Mrs Watkyn writes that she is going to Canada for a year, to visit her son, who is settled there. She can't take the girl with her. She has, as yet, found no situation forher as governess, and she don't know what to do with her. The girl is a sort of white elephant on our hands, you see. Mrs. Watkyn cannot bear to leave her, ex cept in safe hands.' ' If John had put her in the Found ling he would not bo troubled with such letters,' said old Mrs. Redbnrn, composedly. ' Well, I wish he had. The money tlmt TlJl.S liPIVIl finmif, nn +.I110 it a -ivi al no t.
girl ought to have been saved for my boys,' said Mary Redburn. ' 1 won der if she's pretty ?' ^ The old lady winced. W ''I hope not,' she said, shortly. , i ' Beauty has worked woe once in \ his family,' sighed Mary Redburn. v '' Her face was her fortune,' and a poor fortune, too. This Dolores, with the dolefnl name, must be a sober, sighing kind of girl, with tragedy airs: I know just how she looks. If Mrs. Watkyn cannot keep her until she finds a situation as governess, then Mrs. Watkyn must hnd someone to befriend and keep the girl. John is going to write to that effect. If he hadn't been so busy he would have
written a week ago, as lie should have done.' ? ' What is all this to me ?' ' Why, I felt as if I must talk to someone, mother, and the boys don't even know that they have a cousin Delores. And that reminds me! John is so stupid ! He should have given the girl a name ; but as he never thought of doing so she has been call ed .Delores Redbnrn all her life !' The old lady made no comment, yet this information could not have
been otherwise than distasteful to her. . ' Of course the girl can't come here, mother ?'' ' Of course she can't !' ' Thero comes John. I'll help him write the letter*. He has got to go to
toAvn this afternoon, and he can post (he letter when he goes.'7 ?- As John Redburn came in, his mother withdrew. . *? You have told mother about the letter, Mary ?' he questioned. ' Yes. and she is as hard as the nether millstone. Not but what she is right, John. Queenie was an awful disgrace to us— there, don't look so like a thundercloud. Her name was a mere slip, andhow to prevent , such slips when thinking of her child 1 don't know. 1 suppose she's dead, John.' ' Yes, I don't doubt it,' said John Redburn, who had grown grim and stern also, but who .had kept one soft spot in his heart for his lost sister. ' Dead these many years.' ' In a pauper's grave. Who would ever have dreamed that with all her beauty and the petting she used to get, she'd have turned out bad ?' 'Don't, Mary. You must not speak so of her !' ' ' Perhaps you'd like me to speak of her with respect, undeserving of it as she was ?' asked Mary Redburn, jealously. ' I am not a beauty — I know it only too well. I was never petted till I thought myself an angel. But I'm an honest woman, John Red bnrn, and my children have names of their own. They can never curse my memory ? ' ' For heaven's sake, hush ! I can't bear it, Mary. Let the dead rest.' ' If she is dead ! She may be living, a flaunting, wicked woman ' Stop, I say !' commanded John Redbnrn, in a tone that silenced his wife. ' I must write to Mrs Watkyn. I am going to Maidstone and must post the letter. It should have been answered a week ago.' ; He sat down at his tall, oldfashion ed desk, and wrote briefly. to the effect] that he conld not receive Miss -JBed-; burn, and begged Mrs: Watkyn to find her a temporary home until she could be provided with a situation' as! governess. This curt missive was-: folded and addressed, and thrust iiito, his pocket. ' He then went out . into the yard.; His horse was hitched to the waggon, which was filled with vegetables, and Joe, his eldest son, sat on the spring- : board in front. The father climbed in; and took the reins, and drove out into; the road, and on the way to Maid stone. An hour later he entered' tlie town. His first care was to dispose of his garden stuff : his next to post his letter. As he was slowly return ing to the spot where he had left his son in charge of his waggon a cabman, driving slowly along, espied and re-, cognized his burly figure, and hailed him. John Redburn stopped. ?' I've got a fare for Redbum Farm, Mr. Redburn,' said the cabman, ' and my horse has just gone lame.' If your waggon is empty, couldn't vou take the . young lady home with you ?' - ' Are you sure that it is someone, for Redburn Farm ??' asked John Redburh, wonderingly. ;' (To be continued.) ;