Chapter 854209

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Chapter NumberXVII (CONTINUED)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article854209
Full Date1882-07-01
Page Number4
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Word Count4596
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleThe Lust for Gold
article text

FICTION.

(From En K1 18b, Am erica D, «id other Periodical!.)

The Lust for Gold.

CHAPTER XVII.-(CONTINUAD.)

" Have you mentioned your suspicious regarding; tbe manner of Trixj ,'a death to Mr. Sutherland ?'

Eliot asked.

" No, I have told no one but yen, Bliet-not even William or Fred. I- I thought you would be anx- ious to assist me in ferreting ont this thing, since you were so very fond of Trixy, and took her death BO mach to heart," and Mrs. Waldron searched his face somewhat anxiously.

Eliot flashed.

She believed then that she had loved Trixy, and that was why, probably, she bad forbidden her to go to bid studio. She should be undeceived at once.

" I did love Trixy," he answered, with grave frank- ness, " but not in the way you imply, if I under stand you correctly. I bad never any intention of Asking her to become my wife."

"Then I have been mistaken," she returned, thoughtfully, " for I really thought it-might come to that, and I was quite sure that Trixy loved you."

" Not in that way, I assure you," Eliot answered, decidodly.

" About this-this other matter, Eliot, will yeu give me your adtice upon it ?" Mrs. Waldron asked after a moment's pause,

" Certainly-if my counsels will be' of any use to you," he enid ratber coldly.

" Things have reached such a crisis that I feel ob- liged to give my evidence into the bands of the au- thorities," Mrs. Waldron remarked, with a furtive glance at him,

" How havo they reached a crisis P You say no one suspects or knows anything of this matter bnt yourself and Laura ; you are not sure that your sur- mises are true. Why not let the matter rest until there are further developments ?"

" I told you I feared I hsd waited too long already, and my conscience will not allow me to keep the se- cret any longer."

" Oh, if conscience troubles you, I would certainly counsel you to heed all its admonitions," Elliot said with a covert sneer, adding, " but at the same time / should adviBe you to do nothing further about this

affair."

" Why not ?" she demanded, quickly, snd with a

frown.

" Beoause I do not believe that Laura Freston is guilty of what you accuse her," he replied, very slowly and distinctly.

"You do not believe it I" Bhe cried, apparently as- tonished. " Is not the evidence almost incontest- able against her? Think a moment of all I have told you -it is as clear as the day."

"It might appear so to a prejudiced person, or to one who did not know Laura for the pure-minded, high-principled girl that she is. To me it is no evi- dence at all," be said, with a decision which plainly told her she could hope for no ally in him.

" What did she run away for, then ? Why does she hide herself ?" she asked, with a flush of anger ris- ing to her cheek,

" That I am unprepared to say ; but Laura nlwajs bad a good reason for every step she took."

" Indeed I" Mrs. Waldron retorted, with some as- perity ; " perhaps your admiration was directed to- ward Laura rather than Trixy, as I had supposed/

" That is as it may be," he quietly returned ; " but I repeat, I would advise you to take no legal steps

in this matter.

" I cannot feel that it will be right to conceal what I know ; why ! I might be considered an accomplice, if this should be discovered without any action on my part."

" Possibly," Eliot said, coldly.

Mrs. Waldron moved uneasily in her chair, and h?r face grew dark.

She did not like the way in which her confidences had been received, and she began to regret that she had told him anything concerning her intentions.

" I hoped for yoar assistance and counsel in this since you always professed so much friendship for Trixy," she said, is rather a crest-fallen tone.

" The latter I have already given you-the former I shall feel obliged to render Miss Freston, if you are determined to proceed against her ;" and if she could have known the help that he would be able to give Laura, she might well have feared for the result

of her cause.

As It was she flushed angrily.

"Just as you choose-I shall, howevsr, give my evidence into the hands of the authorities immedi- ately, and let them take suoh steps as they deem best, You cannot expect that I am geing to con. ceal a crime like that ; one committed almost under my eyes, nnd run the risk) of being arraigned for it myself," she said, hotly.

Eliot regarded her earnestly fox a moment.

Could it be possible that she really believed Trixy to have been murdered and Laura to be the guilty

ona?

She seemed so in earnest, so apparently innocent, j and received with such an injured air all his asser-

tions of belief in Laura's integrity, that he was half | tempted-or would have been, if be bad not over-

heard her prosecution nnd disgraceful proposals to I Miss Freston on that memorable night-to think [

her sincere in pursuing the course she contemplated.

" If you really believe Trixy was foully dealt with there is something of a risk in concealing your evidence, I admit," he answered, with a steady look into her eye.

"If I really believe I" she repeated, in astonishment, I while her glance did not waver ; " what else could [

that poison have been there for ?"

" I am sure I am unable to say," he answered, I

with a sigh, considerably mystified about a number |

of things,

" And you would advise me to do nothing ?"

" Yes,-or I would not be too hasty. I-think-if | you wait everything will explain itself in time."

How can the presence of that poison be ex- ploded in ony other woy P Of course it woe never pnt in Trixy's room, and concealed in those nshes,

unless some evil WAS intended."

" No, I do not think it was," he answered, signifi- cantly. " But I do not believe that Zauro Preston

put it there."

" Who then ?" she demanded, with some excite- ment and a slight stBrt, which he did not fail to

notice.

"That I am not oble to affirm just at present ; but I feel confident, nay I am sure, the truth will appear some time, and it will not be to condemn Laura

either."

Per a moment he oppeored as if ho would like to add something more, but he remained silent, and

Mrs, Waldron seemed very ill at ease.

At last Eliot resumed with a very troubled face :

"Do you realize all that this involves? have you thought that the authorities will demand an exam- ination of Trixy's body to b» made P are you pre- pared for anything so terrible as thot?"

His companion shuddered.

"Yes," she said, and her face was white even to ghastiinesB. " I know that such will probably be the result of the exposure, but I dare not defer it any longer-that vial-that tumbler haunt me con- tinually."

Eliot Harcourt also shuddered, as if he, too, wos haunted by something unpleasant.

"You are determined, then? he said, lifting his eyes with a glance half pleading, half threatening.

" Yes-fully," she answered, in a firm tone, though she hesitated a trifle botween the words.

" Aunt Roxy, don't do it."

It was very seldom that he addressed her thus and she gazed at him with something of surprise, for there was an almost agonized tone of entreaty in his

voice. .

.' I must," she returned with compressed lips.

" Wait a little while-a month longer, and them I promise to render you all the assistance in my power," he said, excitedly.

"Why not now, as well ?" she asked, in surprise.

" BtCauBe," he began with averted eyes and speak- ing with some nervousness. "I cannot-there are some things that-that I cannot neglect for anything just now."

" Then I shall bo obliged to do without you. and perhaps it will be just us well in the end-I might implicate you also," she returned, with bitterness.

" Very well," he said, lifting his head haughtily, " do as you will. I have advised you,-now I warn you not to do as you propose, for I will bend every nerve to vindicate Laura, and, Mrs. Waldron, I-be- lieve I shall succeed."

There was a strange flash in his eyes ne ho said it -a flash that made her nerves tingle as it from a .hock of electricity

Then a light seemed to break upon her mind.

" You love Laura ! J know you do, and that is why you are so anxious that I should not proceed against her." ,

" And if I do-what then ?" he asked, proudly.

"Abat lam right then; and you want that six hundred thousand, I suppose," she said, almost sav- agely.

Tho young artist's lips curled with infinite scorn. " It is because of that six hundred thousand that I have never told her how I love her," be said excited- ly, and then continned with a sternness that awed the woman by his side :

" Yes, I do love Laura as you hove surmised-I have loved her almost ever since I came here to your house, and became acquainted with her, bat I shall never tell her of it-never oskjierjto.be my

wife, until I have won my wayAb'a positi-n thaTany

true woman would be willing/and proud to occupy."

"She will be doomedbefojre that time comes," Mrs Waldron whispered, the ;»eiD8 upon her forehead swelling out hard and tyjnse with rage at this noble confession to which tiae had just listened.

And now she began to believe that this was the secret of Lsuro's obstinacy regarding William.

If Eliot loved her, he must have shown it in some way, and Laura becoming conscious of it, had learned to reciprocate it.

It was not a pleasant thought in connection with the failure of ¡her scheme that she had been nour- ishing for so if tiny years.

" I do not think she will be doomed to anything very terrible," b^e quietly replied, "end Aunt Roxy -I want you to remember in the future, if things do not turn ou i fuit as you expect they will, that I gave you fair warning. Now, if you have nothing more that you wish to say to me I will retire."

He arose as he spoke, and waited a moment for

some reply ; bnt, Mr«, Waldron, now thoroughly { aroused to ontogonism, preserved a sullen silence, and Eliot, with a slight inclination of his bead, quietly left the room.

" What does he mean by ' things not going just as I expect they will,' I wonder 1" she muttered to her- self, after the door closed upon him. " I might have know better than to let him into my house with those two girls-I suppose it serves me right though, for my folly ; but I've put my shoulder to the wheel now, and I will not rum back. Everything points to Laura as the guilty one-and I will make her rue the day that she defied me. Here I am a compara- tive beggor, and that fortune, a part of which at least, should have come to my children, lyinp utterly idle and useless, or no benefit to any one. It is enough to make me go raving distracted, and I vow that I will hove the handling of it yet ; it shall not go out of this family if there is any way to prevent it. I believe the game is all in my own hands, and I oannot fail to succeed. If everything should go right for me-they would not, of course, think of hanging her,"-her face grew terribly groy at this thought, " a young girl-they would probably im- prison her for life-she could be rr.a.le comfortable as long as she should live, and yet she would be jmst the Same as dead to the world, she would die after awhile, and the fortune would then come to William

and Fred."

She sat considering the pros of cons of this point for a long time, then, with a determined face, arose, elad herself for the street, went to see a lawyer, and delivered up her secret and the cruel war against our fair Laura was begun.

CHAPTER SYIII.

A PAINFUL SITUATION.

Mrs. Waldron's story of the supposed murder of Trixy together with tbe attending circumstances, and the evidence against Laura created a great commotion in the minds of the public at large.

Crime in high life always produces excessive ex- citement ; not because the sin itself is greater than hundreds of evils that are committed every day in the poorer walks of life, but because of the jealousy that exists on account of the proud position and superior advantage which the supposed criminal has heretofore enjoyed, and which makes the less for- tunate vindictive, and savage to hurl them into degradation and trample out their spite upon them, giving yent to the malice and venom of their cor- rupted natures in this moat pitiable manner.

laus it was with Laura, and those of her own sex were the most malicious of all in their denuncia-

tions.

The evidence against her appeared so strong and conclusive that not muoh doubt was entertained in

the minds of t>~

tectives were, stn search for tbexpc

Dr. 8utherl.ibt

Trixy, maintaVyP

He was willm J

natural der.tb, am yon and care of her coifcij »,

grief at her death, ^D hil indignation again* ¿frs

she WBB pursuing w»s,r ''.

Orders were issued b^

body of the young uki - A* tomb and subjected to

ascertain whether ehe had Sî*w-^- ¿LL~

But when this was attempted it .,¿ that tbe key to the vKult was missinjjen

This seemed like another suspicicifl t w»<npb Laura, and it was at once assumed * ,0

stolen and taken the key with her tt»tRE PIGS very thing. J?*1:_

An impression was taken of the lock . \

a smith to have a new key made, but bj'\¿=

there was a delay about the matter, and a.,, nved insl

monthB elapBed before they succeeded ^-*.l)|,^'8

access to the tomb. y ¿ wo °

Meanwhile the detectives were busily ^ ".

for their prey, a large reward having been dheiua for Laura's apprehension.

One evening she had been engaged to sing at a soiree, given by the madam of a fashionable school in the suburbs of Chicago for the parents and friends of her pupils.

Agnes Van Dorn and her mo'ther called to take her with them, and, indeed, they had come to love the fair girl so well that the latter insisted upon acting as her chaperon whenever it happened that they were both to attend the same place.

In fact, Laura consulted her almost always before making engagements, in order that ehe should not compromise herself by going among people with whom she would not care to mingle.

Her anxiety regarding the precarions position she occupied had in a great measure subsided as the weeks went by and no harm befell her, and every- thing ran on as smoothly as before she had learned that she was being searched for as a criminal.

To-night she was in unusually good spirits, and was anticipating a great deal of pleasure in meeting the young ladies of Madam La Fontain's seminary.

8he wore a dress of pale-lavender silk, whose deli- cate color was even more subdued by the rich over- dress of white Spanish lace, looped with scarlet poppies and heliotrope-" Trixy's comfort," as she called it, and always more when she could do so without infringing upon the rules of good taste.

" What exquisite taste you have, Laurie 1" Agnes exclaimed, tis Laura removed her long wrap and stood forth in all her delicate beauty ; her eyes glow- ing with anticipation, her HpB smiling, and a slight flush on her cheeks.

" Thank you ; and I think I may well return the compliment," Laura returned, smiling and running her eye appreciatively over MÍSB Van Dorn's stately figure, which was resplendent in peach-colored brocade and beautiful old point, garnished with great creamy waxen camellias.

"Well, of course," Agnes laughingly assented, " where one does not have to count the cost, and has a fair amount of common sense to put along with one's money, not to mention what you have to pay for your milliner's taste, one need not be quite a fright ; but I happened to know that you plan all yonr own costumes."

The word fright jarred painfully upon Laura's nerves. It brought Trixy so forcibly to her mind, ,and all that she had suffered from having the word

¡vmstantly dinned in her ears, and her bright face JWtded for a moment,

" HV6 * 8ftid anytQinK naughty ?' Agnes asked,

notine ¿'hY* cnan8e in ner friend's countenance

" Oh ¿S£""*(ioea ?" Laura returned, brightening

again. ' ' ^*-*»»T. "«**».,

'. I saw Gen. Von Osdel in the ve».^ f? T T

tered," AgneB said, with a significant gîâBcey ni C&*. began to put on her gloves.

" Did you ? Laura asked, indifferently.

Did I ?" her friend retorted, mimicing her tone. " Don't I know what he was hovering out there for antil our party came, on* didn't I see the delighted glance be shot at our fair songstress as she entered ? You have made no mean conquest there, ma 'chere,"

" Please do not insinuate anything of that kind," Laura said, with a pained look.

" Why not, heart's delight P Can't you see how much he admires you ?"

" I am afraid I do see it more than I desire to,'' wos the grove response, while the color faded from her cheek. She knew that the gallant general's ad-

miration during the last two months had been no j insincere sentiment, and that his delicate attentions to her were beginning to mean something more than a more tribute lo either her beauty or her talents ; and the knowledge was causing her con-

siderable uneasiness.

" Afraid,petite!" ejaculated the gay belle, in pre- tended astonishment. "Why, Gen. Von Osdel's ad- miration is not a thing to be afraid of, or-slighted," she continued, significantly.

" But Agnes," Laura said, lifting her troubled eyes to her friend's face, " it can never be anything to

me-"

" Ah ! don't tell me thot the pretty romance I hove been weaving will amount to nothing," Miss Von Dorn interrupted, with playful reproach.

"Of course I cannot pretend to misunderstand you," Laura resumed, even more grovely than she had yet spoken, "but I have no heart for anything of the kin ', although I esteem Gen. Von Osdel as a noble, high-minded gentleman-please do not think of it again."

" No heart, Laurie, dear ! has the precious article been already disposed of P Forgive me 1" she addedi quickly, as she saw the rich color suffuse the fair girl's face ; " I had no business to talk to you in this woy. Here, let me button that glove for you, and then we must go down:-there comes mamma after us now,"

Miss Van Dorn buttoned the glovo that Laura bad attempted to fasten in vein, and then, as Mrs. Van Dorn joined them, chatted goyly upon different top- ics to draw ber .'attention from the hot color wbieh still burned in her friend's cheek.

Laura's singing to-night was unusually good, and she seemed to put all her spirit into it, and every

one was as enthusiastic as usual.

Everybody too was very kind and attentive to her honoring her in every possible way ; while the fact of her being a paid musician appeared to be ignored entirely. She was always so sweet and lovely-so cultivated and refined, that no one seemed to remem- ber it, and the was received upon an equal footing

with the most distinguished guests wherever she

went,

Once wbile singing and facing the large company, her eyes were attracted to a quiet, gentleman- like individual at the further end of the room, and who seemed to be deeply interested in observ-

ing her.

He listened with the closest attention, and did not once remore his eyes from her face while she sang.

When she ceased, and mingled again with the company, he approached her, and hovered about the edge of the circle which surrounded her.

H" -ire bein JlomeLr ",nt

" Iviaîrf m will

I think, and it jEty .1 .

to say to you," ¿fl**0* nD

listenerwouldBN^'j^

girl, who sank R

word of protest ai-eacnown , to oppose him, thei =s, 2-t

and intensity that inhered.

that he wished to say to'E. be,f l

\nfrom

He stands there silent, lo Xaso j.

a moment, and noting the 1 DJI. '¡¡»go t0 *.*. ~

with her slender, graceful fiJUírn itafaWt'fi», a",> ranged drapery, outlined »gainst the dark velvet *?* the chair. Her bright hair is simply coiled aroun>¿( her small head, and fastened with a circlet of pearl and diamonds. Her cheeks now are pale, the flus

which had made her so beautiful all the eveninj!N(

having died quickly out of his words, nnd her del:_ cate lids hove drooped, hiding the lovely sapphir

of her glorious eyes. He notices how pure and peí«*, feet her profile is-how white and slender her beat/t tiful neck-the simple cross of pearls and diamondi

to match the circlet upon her hair, that fastens th|-i creamy white lace at her throat He noteBthedelM cate tracery of veius underneath the clear skin, th small hands clasped in her lap, ond the fragrance 0 heliotrope that always pervades her. She is a visio of entrancing beauty, whose pure spirit and gentl nature shine forth from every perfect feature.

He stands there and hesitates to speak-he dreadr

to put his hoüoa-strong, yearning, passionate hopa v

they are, too-to the test ; almost instinctively h> fears that his cause is hopeless-that this beautif u

woman with her pure strong character, will tell hin ¡ that she cannot be his wife. _j

" Mademoiselle Pretoni," he soys, in his deep thrilling, monly tones, and bending a trifle nearer ti her, " I love you, and I have brought you hither to

night to ask you to give me hope that I moy wir you for mj wife." ¿_

He saw her sensitive mouth settle into lines ot: pain ; he saw the white lids quiver, and those amalQ8 hands clasp themselves more tightly ; but he wen on, the passion in his voice growing intenser wit'8' every word ; " I have seen many women fair on lovely- I have long yearned for a home and the |j}hc, of my own fireside, with some sweet spirit there_ cheer and love me ; I have longed for a pure ^ _

gentle woman whom I could clasp to my heart ° coll my own-who would belong to me-wholly

reservedly-who WOHW live for me, and brighte£3Br ( ^ty future. Laurie-forgive me if I presume, bvjQ is the dearest name in the world to me-you alor all have h»d power to move my soul-to stir very centre my strong nature, and beo<"

-r*»'

will to do you homBge. I connor _ >* n»j*gfc

?Wqtièyave for,/- . &&&* mv y°u "f.*

when tnÍB'«*s»<_ JS,d esme to me-I only O&lj,

that I beard you? matchless voice-it thrilled > _ í¡.8(. I had never before been thrilled-I met you, I oin with you, I looked into the wonderful dep< f°N your eyes, and-you had won mel From thagrf0d» ment all peace for me was gone-I am restless, un- c satisfied, miserable, save when in your presence^ My love-my own love-the only woman whom jW shall ever love-tell me that it is not in vain-.Laurie,T oh I give me one word one look of hope." X

But he knows even before he asks it that it can«''1 not be, for, with his keen, hungry eyes fixed upon<

that now marble face, he has seen the regret, theC| pain, the almost agony that swept over it at the, knowledge of the passionate, hopeless love which\ she had so unwittingly evoked, and the anguished prayer of his last words betrays how surely he

knows that he must go on loveless to the end. )

For a moment after he had concluded Laura did

not seem to have the power to move, thence arose, j

and turning, stood before him.

" General Von Osdel," she began, and her sad

sweet tones thrilled him with exquisite pain, " IL pray that you will forgive me." ' T

"Forgive you, Laurie-forgive youP" he asks with trembling, eager voice. '

" Yes, forgive ; for, although I ha.vA airjtjyd y#lurX society, and have appreciated /your kindnels'and L attention to me, I did not on#e think of doing you

such wrong as this-I ne,Wr meant to encourage g you to hope for anything* like what you have asked ri of me. My friend-i|/you will allow me to call you c'

such after this-I ca/anot be your wife." >'

He drew in one quick, hard, gasping breath, and B

then shut his Ita» like a vise, ic

He had bs/en in a score of battles; he had beea C imprisoned./wounded, half starved, insulted, abusad, '1 and never faltered. But had it all been crowded "

into one moment of time, he could not have suffered l as he did now. He waa a strong, brave, true man, ° and the depth and intensity of his love was equaled by few in this world, but he knew how to endure and be silent-he had the soul of a hero in him though the blanching of his cheek, and the look of

hopeless misery that carne to his eyes, as ne gazed ] upon this fair girl and knew that his hopes wera ! forever blighted, could not fail to tell their own

tale, ?

" Laurie, you are not one to speak lightly, and yet -oh, if I thought that anything in the power of man could cause you to change those hopeless words it should be accomplished," h9 said, with such in- tensity and despair that she could have sobbed

aloud. .

" There is nothing that can change them," she said , gently, " and I can only ask you again to forgive^1

.à!

The tears gathered beneath her golden-fringeat» lids and rolled slowly over her cheeks, and tb-V-¿-lu'r made him for the moment forget his own ymisery.

Involuntarily he took, the delicate handkerchief she had in her hand and wiped the flight drops away. ' ij >*

" My dear-my dear, I am not worth tong of those drops," he whispered, with womanliy tenderness. "I have nothing to forgive ; do noj/grieve for me."

But poor Laura, proud, and colc^, and relentless as

she could be when the occasion. Required, could not

endure this,

VUDtWU.f