Newspaper Page Text
CHAPTER VI Uont.nued. "You don't love him!" said Blanche, with a shudder, and she recoiled and drew her hand from Mrs. Goddard'a clasp. "Ah, I see you don't understand how such a thing could be, but it is so, and, ry as I will, I cannot make myself care for him. This voyage gives, me infinite pleasure because I shall be free if only for a little while But you must not tell him." "Never it would kill himbreak his heart!" exclaimed Blanche, "he loves you with all his soul. I don't see how 'The person before me is threatened with a sad calamitj,' were her first words 'Then, although she could not possibly have known that I knew of her, or had the slightest intention of con sulting her, she gave me a clear, true outline of mj past life "Verj strange, indeed," said Blanche. "It was, to be sure," went on Mrs. Goddard "And what she told me of the past made me dread more than ever her first statement I presently found courage to ask her what she meant by that allusion 'You are about to take a voyage/ said she, after a moment's reflection, 'and, while jou may come back safely, I am afraid jou will die awaj from \our native land 'Would you advise me to stay at home?' I asked her. "'No, jou need not try to escape your fate,' she answered. 'In fact, our impulse to go away from America is a step in the right direction, and if ou have to die it would be better todie while trjing to atone for that which you regret so sincerely.' "How very awful!" exclaimed Blanche. The recital had really ex cited her bejond description. "Her warning has brought all th good there is in me to the surface," de clared Mrs Goddard. "I want to stop right now and try to beat a retreat and disentangle myself from the toils my sin has wound around me The speaker's voice dwindled away into si lence. Then she seemed to make a re solve to be more candid than ever. "Blanche," she sighed. "I have not told jou the worst vet. I have wronged jou more than I did himmore than I ever did anybodj my life, because you were so young at the time, and I truck jou from the dark." "Wronged me?" The girl drew her self up with a sudden intuition of what was coming. "Yes, jou, my poor, innocent child. "When the major first began to come to see me it was simply that he might pour his love for you into a sympathetic ear. He was madly in love with you. He could talk of nothing but his beauti ful ward. I had heard of his riches, and I at once set about to dethrone you. I laid the most adroit plans to se- Copyright, ioo. by A. N. Kellogg Newspaper Company you could be with him every day and" Blanche, bitterly, and, unwilling to dis "Don't reproach me," begged the old- claim the accusation just uttered, she cr woman, giving another glance at the put her hands to her face and began te remble from head to foot "Whj do I tell jou about it?" said Bible "I hate been trying to get for giveness to-day. I have actually been on my knees half a dozen times, but Mis Goddard, a cold, snakv gleam in restpeace of mind will not come. ThenBlanche,are you superstitious?" "Not much, I think, Mrs. Goddard "Well, it must be the natural condi tion of wicked people I am full of su perstition. I am always looking iojr punishment in some supernatural way, and right now it seems nearer to my heels than ever. Have you ever heard sole him at once by inarrjing him as of Mme. Legare, the fortune teller?" Blanche had, and she sat wide-eyed with surprise as Mrs. Goddard con tinued: 'I went to see her this afternoon I have heard so many wonderful things that jou keep what I have told you to she has foretold She seems to be able to look right through the curtain of the future and to actually tear it down from the past. I don't know what made me decide to go, but when the idea- presented itself I went without stopping to weigh the consequences. "Her house is in West Fiftieth street, and "when I went in and the man had closed the front door I found myself in total darkness I assure you I felt as if I were actually in mj grave Even the sound of the wagons and carnages in the street was shut out. The at tendant gave me his hand, and, whis pering to me that I had nothing to fear, he led me into a dark, still room on the right of the entiance Theiehe left me for at least half an hour I tell joul was trightened almost out of my senses, but I did not dare get up to retrace my steps I seemed to breath only the stuffy darkness, and absorb new hoirors from mj surroundings. Presentlv a soft glow as delicate as the first touches of sunlight on the eastern skies shone in front of me This grew into a sort of rosy radiance, and then a gauzy curtain seemed to be lifted, and I saw a woman reclining on a couch under a faint pink light I knew that it Was Mme. Legare and that she was in her famous trance condition Just then the attendant came to me and whispered that I was to advance and stand by her couch alone As soon as I had done so Mme Legare began to speak cure his attentions I used all the wiles in mj power. It was an awful strug gle, but the prize was a big one in my sight. I was heartily tired of the sor did life I was leading and was fired with the ambition to be a social leader to use the arts I felt I was born with When he fell it was very sudden. Then I pretended that I was trying-to re treat because he was rich and I was poor, but that only inflamed him all the more, as I knew it would You know the rest. Now. you maj hate me, for if it had not beeri for me he would have gone on loving you andand jou would have made him happier than I can, foroh, Blanche, I know jour se cret, and that has been part of my pun ishment! I have ruined both jour life and his "Whj do jou tell me all this?" asked j ".^u.iiuia. asivei her ejes, "because if anj thing were happen to me I wfnt jou to lemem ber that I now saj that God selected 3011 for his bride and Satan and I thwarted the plan Therefore, remem ber thatif I should die abroad (you see, I cannot forget that woman's un canny prediction)I want jou to con- soon as he asks ou." "Oh,thisis simply dreadful!" Blanche uncovered her white face and stared fixedly at the woman "I know it," was the answer, "butsee yourself. Blanche, you cannot" denj that jou have loved him a long time." "I don't intend to." said the con quered girl "He is the best man that ever livedthe noblest, the truest, the most abused If j'ou had only made him happjbut jou have not he is beside himself with grief over jour depar- ture." "That is true, but it can't be helped. Now leave me. I feel veryi unhappy to nightunhappy because I have made jau so I am not all bad." "Blanche rose. She was like a boat buffeted bj- conflicting cunents. She believed Jeanne to be remoiseful be cause her confessed deeds appeared so horrible to her unsullied mind "I am so soiry for vou." she was enabled to say smcerelj "Will jou kiss me, Blanche?" "\e o, for I am sorrj- for ou, in spite of "I know," broke in Mrs Goddard, and Ehe kissed the girl on the lips. It was 3U'-t such a kiss as she bestowed on her huband a thousand times, and it had never failed to deceive him It made our heroine shiver. "I have another trouble, Blanche," and Mrs Goddard pressed her hand upon her white bi ow "My father was insane when he died That's the othei secret He had sti ange fancies. I often have them too Awful delusions. SHE SAW HER GUARDIAN WAITING fight them awaj', but they come again and again. Don't tell the major. He has enough trouble already, besides he would be afraid to send me away." "But perhaps you ought to tell him and get -medical advice," remonstrated Blanche. "No, the voyage will put me straight The sea air alwajs does. I shall come back feeling better in every way." "That, then, is your chief reason for deciding to go so suddenly," remarked the girl "1 wondered how" "Yes," broke in Mrs. Goddard, as if her recital had gained plausibility in being viewed from Blanche's standpoint. es, my attacks have been more fre quent of late and I really feel the need of a decided change." As Blanche went out she saw her guardian waiting on the first landing of the stairway, and her heart re proached her for remaining so long with his wife, for she saw that his im patience was consuming him. He had nothing to say as she passed his face was filled with utterances too vague for words "I forgot to say," he said, when Mrs. Goddard had admitted him, "that I dSci not go down to the ship to see yourJ stateroom. You said it was the Cleo patra, I believe." "Yes, dear," she drew him- to the seat "just vacated by his ward. "It is not one of the fastest liners. Indeed, tt takes ten dajs to reach Liverpool, but for the same price I was able to get absolutelj the chief stateroom on the ship. It is on the promenade deck and has a private bath and a room for Mrs. Nolan adjoining mine. Oh, it has every convenience, and has a big, wide bed which I can be thoroughly com fortable!" "I am glad jou have made such good arrangements," responded the major "but I wish jou wouldn't go. Jeanne, do ou know that you are drawing me into depths of- degradation thai I would never have reached but for you? For God's sake let's renounce it all and turn about and trj to live pure, honor able lives I am alreadj tired of the plan." "Bosh!" Her exclamation was full of impatience "Don't show the white feather at this late hour! You want me to continue to love jou, and I cannot love anjbody as poor as Job's turkey. So drop that sort of nonsense. I have argued with jou all I am going to." "Another thing," he said, cautiously, "I don't like the looks of the woman you employed "Lucy Nolan, and why, pray?" "She doesn't look like an honest woman A rippling laugh burst from Mis. Goddard's lips. "What are jou amused over?" he asked, slightty piqued. "That jou should expect me to select a prodigy of human goodness to help me carry out the most daring piece of rascality ever born of woman's fertile brain Dear Rowland, are jou jest- ing?" "Do jou mean to say that jou sus pect her to be a dishonest woman?" "I know that she will do anj thing I ask for money and keep her mouth shut I may as well tell the truth. I used to emploj' her She was at the head of nvy sewing-room. We under stand each other He seemed deeply shocked by this confession For several minutes he sat staring at her dumbly. Presently he pulled himself together. Later in his life he recalled his reply and regarded it in the light-of an inspired prophecy. "Jeanne, don't drive me too far," he said with a sudden firmness that beat her back into the crafty cautiousness from which overconfidence had allowed her to slip. "Don't drive me too far. I have always had an ideala oman who would be above instead of beneath me in high aspirations, and if anything should cause me to shake you off, it will be that j'ou draw me down instead of upward." Her face was full of startled concern for a single instant, th en she began to smile upon him. "Leave it all to me, then, Rowland," She said. "I am plotting and planning for your interest and mine. All I ask of you is to be silent and obey my or ders. Think of the long years of hap piness before us. You never could make me believe that we are doing Blanche any wrong in making the few remain ing months of her life happy She con fessed to me that she loved you onlj' a few minutes*ago." "You are not serious, Jeanne?" "I never was more so. She has nev er had a moment's happiness since you married me Now, it will be but fair for me to give ou to her while she lives." He made no reply The firelight shone in the face of the enchantress. If he fell under the circumstances, he did nothing but what man's earliest ancestor did for reasons not so clear Ij set forth as those which dragged Goddard awaj from the rugged path of rightdoing CHAPTER VII. In the morning, before the hour for leaving for the ship, Goddard saw his wife walking about in the cheezvless garden The day was moderatelj vvaim and still, and the sun shone clearly He went out and joined her. His face was careworn and sallow. She looked up as he approached. "A beautiful day to sail on," she said, with a bewitching smile "Yes, indeed," he said, looking her over from head to foot. He discov ered fresh charms in her in the new gray traveling dress and hat. These things made the parting pangs in his breast all the more keen "I see jou like my gown," she said reading his admiration in his glance. "It is pretty, isn't it?" Yes, it is very pretty, but that is not wonderful. You never wore anjT thing that wasn't just what it should be" She glanced at the veranda, on the edge of which stood her trunks, hand bags and rolls of steamer rugs, pil lows and a declt chair. "You see James has got everything ready." "But Mrs" "Oh, Lucy has agreed to meet me at the ship, -of course! She won't fail, you may be sure." Mrs Goddard took a sealed envelope from her pocket and gave it to him "Don't, under any circumstances, lose or misplace these," she cautioned him "But what are they?" he asked, feel ing a small object through the paper "It contains a card and key, dear. The card is the address of a private letter box on Sixth avenue, and the key is to open, whenever you like, box No 568 Goddard fumbled them distastefully without ^comment for a moment, but with a furtive glance toward the house, his wife took them from him, and with a playful air put them into the pocket of his coat. "You know,," she explained, with a THE PKlKCETOlSr UyiOyt^jrHUBSDAY, MAfiCH 14, 1901? XXJU. KIIUW sue expiamea wit a ing madljr Goddard interrupted, her tone sharp and businesslike, as she gave him an other card. It has only Mrs. Nolan's address and name on it. All your let ters must be sent to her." He stood so helplessly^before her that she had to place that card also into his pocket. "I am almost afraid you will be too weak and silly to do all I tell you," she said, sharply. "If you fail, I shall never see you again, and" She did not fin ish her threat, but the suggestion of it had the desired effect on him. "I will try to do all you want, Jeanne, and I hope it will result in our ultimate happiness." \fter breakfast, as they all stood in the dining-room, the carriage drove up to the door, followed by a wagon to mdve tlfe luggage. Then Mrs. Goddard shook hands with Blanche and wiped her eyes on her handkerchief. "Good-bjV she said "do kiss meH again." Blanche complied her own ej'es were dry and full of sweet, childfike wonder "The almost sleepless night she had passed had only deepened the mj-stery which, in her eyes, enveloped the wife of her guardian. Mrs. Goddard moved gracefully out into the hall, still wip ing her e.j es. Talley followed, his man ner solicitous and regretful. Goddard left the two together while he went out to give an order to the coachman. "While I am awaj, Mr. Talley," said Mrs. Goddard, coldly, "I hope j'ou will clip the wings of your foolish aspira tions." "Whj-, I don't understand you, Mrs Goddard," he cried, in abject astonish ment. He stood as if stunned by a blow. "You think jou will win Blanche and get her monev," she replied, with guarded rancor, "but you might as ell lenounce your intentions she'll never look in jour direction She can see what has influenced ou." "My God! Mrs. Goddard," exclaimed the joung man, with a look of deep pain, "don't misjudge me. If I have dared to feel the most intense admira tion for her, I have not entertained even the slightest hope of ever gaining her favor. No man could live near her, and see her constant miserj- and witness her beautiful character an&nature and keep from admiring her, but as to dar ing to" But the major was coming, and giv ing Talley her hand Mrs. Goddard said, lightly: "Good-by, Mr. Talley don't forget what I have said." He stood like a stone and watched the carriage drive awaj'. Mrs God dard was waving her handkerchief, but he seemed too deeply sftinned to re spond. When the carriage had disap peared down the road he turned and saw Blanche standing by his side. In stead of watching the departing ve hicle she was regarding him with a fixed, inquiring gaze. "What is the matter with you?" she questioned, considerately. "Nothingonlj-" he stammered. "IIshe" "Wonders will never cease," said Blanche "Are jou, too, in love with her? I never dreamt of that whj" "Oh, no, not that, I assure you," he declared, recovering a little of lus color and animation. "On the con tiarj% I Oh. Miss Briscoe, please do not think that of me!" She looked into his face thoughtful ly for several minutes, then she said' "You certainly had the queerest look on j'our face I ever saw on it. She mustdid she say anything that hurt your feelings?" "She intimated that I was showing myself capable of very presumptious intentions," he answered, desperatelj "She is so stiange," sighed our her oine, "so verj7, very strange!" A carriage was entering one of the gates at the foot of the sinuous drive. "It is Lottie Dean," said Blanche "I am glad she is prompt She is go ing to pay me a long visit. I hope you will be nice to her, Mr. Talley She likes you." "I shall be pleased to do all in my power to help jrou ders shes'had entertain her," re- turned the young man, and they crossed the venanda together, and stood on the steps waiting for the ad vent of the carriage CHAPTER VIII. As the major and his wife were be ing driven up to the pier where the Cleopatra lay, his agitation increased. "It will soon be over," he sighed. "You will cable me as soon as you land, won't jou, Jeanne?" There was just a hint of hesitation in the look she gave him, then: "Yes, dear.Row land," she said, "the moment I land but my letters, re member, must go to the box." "I shall simply haunt the place," he declared They alighted from the cab and walked along the pier through the hurrying throng of cabmen, draymen, passengers and people who had come to see their friends off. Reaching the gang plank, lowered for the ac commodation of the salcon passen gers, thej saw Mrs Nolan on the up- per deck leaning against the railing and trying to attract their attention. Mrs Goddard laughed merrily and waved the bit of cambric she held in her hand "Let's* go right up," she said to her husband. "I want you to see our big rooms You will agree with me that it is better to go in a bot that is not quite so fast than to miss such quarters as I have engaged." He complied. The attention her beauty and stylish appearance had at tracted fiom the bjjist anders had not escaped his eye. His heart was beat little frown, "it may be that I shall gangplank to the first deck In a mo- Maj. Goddard," said Miss Dean, giving want to write to you in some other ment they were shaking hands with him her hand,! "nnrl wo Tincu nion ni way than by directing my letters to Lyndhurst." "Oh, Jeanne, these awfulawful de tails" "And here is a London address," & or- ^Wf^ T* s" not, he argued, his own excuse of being blindly in love -As they stoo ther lpassinlgf a The woman addressed shrugged her shapelj shouldeis. "Your photograph, dear Rowland." she said. "I must not let it be stolen I can't deposit suth a thing in the ship's safe, jou know, and jet I want it with me, of course. Butnow re member, if there ever is anj thing which jou cannot comprehend' full v. think of this closet and its two kevs and the puzzle will be solved." "You are so strange," he said, try ing to fall into her mood Ju st then one of the deck hands came in with Mrs. Nolan's steamer trunk and small er luggage. A large willow basket to which was attached a card bearing the advertisement of a well-known delicatessen establishment riveted the roving glance of the major. Noting his curious stare at it, Mrs Nolan moved nearly to the door *and stood looking out at the clattering machines which were hoisting vast loads of trunks and boxes from the pier below. "It is only a basket of fruit I or dered Lucy to get for me," said Mrs. Goddard, her face suddenly changing. "I always find that it is difficult to get just the right kind of fruit one wants on board, no matter how good the supply is." "But," said the major, bending down and removing the cover, "they must have made some mistake This bas ket does not contain fruit There cer tainly are cans of meats, sardines, pate de foies gras and rolls of boned turkey. They have sent you the. wrong basket Mrs. Goddard laughed uneasily. "Well, I maj as well acknowledge that it is something to eat. I did not want you to know that I could have such a ravenous appetite after parting with you but the truth is, the sea air keeps me hungrv all the time. I want to eat at night,when it doesn't look respectaDle to make demands on the ship's larder. Now, come out on deck It is stuffy in here. The air will not be stirring till we get out of the harbor." Not fully satisfied with her flurried explanation, he followed her out on the deck, and he dismissed the sub ject as unworthy of comment at such an important moment. They strolled along the deck, now holding 50 or 60 passengers, most of whom, with seri ous ejes, were regarding the crowd assembled below. At last the gong which was the signal for those who were pot to sail to go ashorewas sounded, and Goddard grew actually white as he clutched his wife's hand "Are you seasick?" she jested. "You know how this parting is kill ing me," he answered "Our meeting soon rnever de pends on you," was her quiet, firm re ply- "I fondly hope you will find some other way," he said, in despair "You need not count on that, dear," she said. "Now kiss me and go As he went down the gang plank he had .to hold to the railing to be sui of his foothold. Reaching the pier, he stood in the ranks along the water's edge, his eyes glued to a single face on the deck of the shi^fwhich was be ginning to move. An old woman near him, who was waving a farewell to her daughter, was sobbing aloud he fel,t like crying, too, and but for 'the smiling countenance he adored he might have done so. He was the last to leave the pier. When the Cleopatra had vanished from sight he started homeward The difference between his condition and that of his wife was that she felt as if she were just en tering a state of freedom, while he had sold himself into bondage, of bodjr and soul I was five o'clock in the afternoon when he reached Lyndhurst He heard Blanche singing as she sat at the piano in the drawing-room, and when he went in he saw Miss Dean and Talley standing near her. They all came towards him "We have been waiting tea for you as he followed her up the we wave ueen waiting tea for jTou. -j- t*ii iiuaa i/a,givji men they were shaking hands with him her hand "an we have planne^g Mrs. Nolan. Goddard's handshake was not a allow you to get blue, haven't a mere cold formality. He now hearti ly disliked his wife's homely confeder^ ate. He despised her for being weak face, but she did not speak, enough to obey Jeanne's criminal or- we Blanche?" His ward nodded, her eyes on his I thank you," he said, smiling ,cbut the A three murderersf before the world as reputable, well-to-do citizens. "Welly let me see jour staterooms,11' he said, resignedlj. "They are on this deck, the 'last towards the stern." said Mrs. Goddard. leading the vvav. "In fact, there are no other apartments up here~except the captain's, and his quarters are further forward. We shall be absolutely pri- vate." They had now reached a door to which Mrs Nolan had the key, and they unlocked it and went in. It was indeed a spacious apartment. In addi tion to the wide double bed, the room contained a soft lounge, a tea table and china seivice, and a little sideboard braced against the wall. Adjoining it were a bath and a single-berth room "Here," said Mrs. Goddard. opening the door of a closet about a yard in depth, "is the gem of modern improve ments. I can hang up mj things and they will keep drj and smooth. Be sides, the^.piirser said there were but. two keys to it. and hChas promised to let me have both of them, for securitv 's sake." "-Here they are," said Mrs. Nolan, tim idly, and she cringed under Goddard's sudden gaze "He gave them to me just now Mrs. Goddard laughed mysteriouslj. "I told him I had some valuable things which I did not care to keep in the safe in the office, and he assured me they would be absolutely safe in my closet." The brows of the major lan together perplexitj. "What is at the bottom of this?" he said "What sort of valuables do vou refer to? notnot yet. Later I shall join ou, but I am going to mj room just now. It is good of you to come to us, Miss Dean." "But, really, won't you have one cup?" pleaded Blanche, all tenderness and sj'mpathy. c"Not this afternoon, dear," and he turned from the room. "Oh, isn't he splendid?" exclaimed Miss Dean, when he had left the room. "He is one man that rouses the best emotions that are in me. I could love aan unmarried man like that." She was speaking to Blanche, but our heroine had gone to the table and was pouring a cup of tea. *'You take two lumps, Lottie, I be lieve," she said, in a voice in which there was a hint of unsteadiness. Mrs Goddard stood bj- her accom plice and waved her handkerchief un til she was tired. Then she said: "Do ou think he can distinguish me in a crowd at this distance, Lucy?" "I think not," answered Mrs. Nolan, indifferently. "My sight is good, and "OUR MEETING DEPENDS ON YOU," SHE SAID I can't tell him from anybodj else on the pier."' "Then I shall stop, mj arm aches. Do jou think he will do as I wish?" "I don't know him as well as you do." Mrs Nolan evidently laid no claim to perspicacitj. "It looks to me like a mighty easj' way to make monej% but, of course, as you said the other daj, it all depends on j'our grip on him. I think what we have to fear more than anything is his preachy tendencj7 i: Nobody but you would dare to attempt to work a man like he is." "Yes, it all depends on the grip," ad mitted Jeanne "and the longer we are separated the less my influence will be so j-ou see the absolute need of striking while the iron is hot." Mrs. Nolan threw a startled look into her companion's calm face. "Striking while the iron is hot?" she repeated, interrogativelj'. "Y'es now come into the stateroom we must clearly understand"1 each other When they were in their room, Mrs. Goddard closed and locked the door. Then they sat down and conversed in whispers for an hour. "Oh. I wish," protested Mrs. Nolan, when the conference was ended, "I wish JTOU would postpone it till we are on land. I am such a poor actress." "Well, it simply has to be done, and after considering a dozen plans there could be nothing so good as this. I couldn't tell him it would be so soon, for he would have backed down on the spot. When the news is telegraphed to him from Liverpool, and when he sees the papers full of the details, he will not dare to open his mouth. Even if I should fail, you see, thejT would con- clude that the whole thing was simply the conduct of an insane person.'* "The whole scheme stamps you as a regular genius," said Mrs. Nolan. "Are jrou sure you can stand the ordeal, and that there is enough for jou to eat in the basket? It will not seem right for me to go down to warm meals in the salon while j'ou are eating cold things up here "I shall put it off if possible till we are nearly in," said Mrs. Goddard. "Besides, you may order your meals 'Sent heie occasionally and we will ex change CHAPTER IX It was the third day out. The sky was cloudless and the sun was throw ing down a genial warmth upon long rows of passengers in steamer chairs and rugs on the deck. Mrs. Goddard and her companion sat side by side. An inclination towards sociability had drawn most of the passengers together in half-hearted efforts at entertain ment, but the two characters belonging to my history held themselves quite aloof from all. The captain, who as a habit spoke to few of his passengers, seemed to have singled Mrs. Goddard out as a voyager of no little distinction owing to her oc cupation of the best stateroom on board, for he often bowed to her as he passed. To-day, when Mrs. Goddard saw him coming along the deck in their direction, she nudged her companion. "There is a vacant chair next to me," she said "If I can get him to sit down a moment I shall play my first card." "Oh, don't say anything before me," entreated Mrs. Nolan "I feel so shaky." "You must get over that," ordered our arch conspirator, sternly. "Now, don't you forget what I told you." The captain was now quite near. It was the smile of Mrs. Goddard that caused him to doff his cap and pause. "A fine day, madam," he said, cor dially. She motioned for him to sit down in the chair on' her left. "I have been wanting to speak to you, captain, ever since the beginning of the voyage," she said, and there was a strange laclc-lnster expression in her eyes.