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EDDA'S BIRTHRIGHT. BY MRS. HARRIET LEWIS, Author of "Her Double Life," "Old Life's Shadows," "Lady Kildare," etc. CHAPTER XXII. MORE HALF-CONFIDENCES. Edda Brend's presence of mind by no means deserted her at the moment of her unexpected rencontre with lr. Gaecoyne Upham at the gate of the enclosure in Cavendish Square. It was one of her peculiarities that she was not easily to be surprised or taken unawares. And so, while Miss Powys's gaze was upon her from an open window of the opposite house, while Mr. Nizbit listened eagerly from within the enclosure, while more depended upon her prompt coolness that she could even guess, Edda proved herself equal to the emergency. She dropped the key of the gate into her pocket, laughed, and said, saucily Your gallantry is only to be surpassed by your curiosity, Mr. Upham. But since you have crossed the street entirely upon my account, please take me home." She put out her hand as if to place it upon his arm. Upham hesitated, with a glance of uneasy inquisitiveness in the direction of Mr. Nizbit. > "But—but," said. Upham, "you have locked I your friend in, Miss Brend ? You are evidently I determined not to gratify my curiosity, which has increased tenfold. Who is your friend ? Is he your uncle ?" s "No, he is not my uncle," said Edda, coolly. Really, Mr. Upham, your questions are becoming intrusive. I am quite capable of managing my own affairs, if you'll excuse my saying so. And if you expect to pass any longer for a gentleman, or to win the slightest share of my consideration, you will just curb your manly inquisitiveness, and let me alone." This sharp little speech, rendered more effective by an angry red spark in the girl's dusky eyes, warned lr. Upham that he was treading upon dangerous ground. He was consumed with a feverish anxiety to question Mr. Nizbit, to prove the mystery surrounding Edda's origin, to verify his newly-formed suspicions in regard to her con- nection with Miss Powys, but Edda had intimi. dated him. What good would result from any discoveries he might make if Edda should scorn and repulse him ? lie loved the girl; he meant to win her for his wife deppite her rejection of him, and he decided reluctantly that it would be bad policy to anger her now. Besides—and these reflections were of not less weight than those that had preceded-Eclda would not leave him alone for an instant with Nizbit, and he could not question Nizbit before her. Better watch for their next meeting," he thought. "Better track him to his home, and visit him there secretly. I must throw Edda off her guard, and it will be easy to find out, even from her, the fellow's address. Of course she's no match for me in shrewdness and astuteness. I shall worm out her secret if I go to work aright. Just now it behooves me to win her confidence and respect." Acting upon this idea., Mr. Upham made a brief apology to Edda for the interest he had taken in her affairs, urging his devotion to her, and his desire to spare her all annoyances, offered his arm, and conveyed her across the street. I am going back again directly," said Edda, as they entered the banker's house together. I will go alone, Mr. Upham." With a little bow she flitted up the stairs, going to Miss Powy's room. Mr. Upham departed slowly to his own chamber. Edda briefly stated the case to Miss Powys, and begged as a loan the sum still owing to Mr. Nizbit for the girl's support. "I will repay it out of my earnings, madam," said Edda, gravely. Mr. Nizbit intended to call at this house and ask for you, but if he receives this money-he will go away and never trouble you again. You can trust his word, Miss Powys." I will pay him the amount he claims, Edcla," said the lady, her pale cheeks flushing. Do not speak of repaying me. What was it Mr. Upham said to you ? Edda narrated her conversation with the banker's clerk. You're a brave, noble girl,' said Miss Powys. I thank you, Edda, for meeting the emergency set promptly. Here is the money for Mr. Nizbit. Tell him, please, that it should have been paid be- fore but for—no, my dear, give him the money as from yourself. lie must never seek to see me. I am not the woman he thinks me, you may say to him, and his intrusion into this house will only bring trouble upon him." Miss Powys opened her private desk and counted out the required sum of money in Bank of England notes. Edda thrust them into her pocket and returned to Mr. Nizbifc. She paid him the money, and after a brief conversation with him gave him egress from the inclosure, and even walked with him some distance to a cab-stand, where she took leave of him, then returning home. About nine o'olock, when Edda was in the midst of packing her boxes, her dinner-dress laid aside for a little white dressing jacket, her dusky hair clingimg close to her head in damp little ringlets, her saucy little faoe flushed, a knock was heard upon her door, and Miss Powys, radiant in Nile green silk and foam-like lace, came sweeping into the room. The lady's imperious blonde face clouded a little as f iie beheld Edda's employment. Closing the door, she acoeped the chair which the girl haatened to place at her disposal, and exclaimed "Are you still determined to leave me, Misj Bsenti ?" Yes, madam," replied Edda, glancing at her open trunks. I am not ungrateful to you for your kindness to me—I must go." But think what it is to go among strangers, Edda—to be at the beck and call of a captious old woman, who has alienated from her everyone of her blood in the world-whose descendants are not even on speaking terms with her." Did I not venture among strangers when I came here, Miss Powys ?" asked Edda, calmly. "Yea—yes—but yet-" "I am not afraid even of old Mrs. Vavasour," said Edda, as the lady's voice faltered and broke down. I shall like the very solitude and dreari- ness of old Ben Storm and Storm Castle. I shall delight in the grim old mountain as I delighted in my native moors. When I tire of the Highlands and Mrs. Vavasour, I can find another home, I dare say but I am young, strong and patient; I am willing to bear a great deal, and-who knows? —old Mrs. Vavasour may really like me. A little love would go a great way with me, for I never had anyone to love me, you know." There was a plaintiveness in the sweet young voice that went to Miss Powys's heart, and there was a sudden quiver of the girl's saucy mouth that was infinitely touching. The lady's face grew paler, and a sudden wistfulness appeared in her eyes. "You have had a desolate sort of life, Edda," she said. I think I never realised how desolate until lately. It would have been better to have sent you to a boarding-school, but it seemed neces- sary to conceal your very existence." "In the hope that I might die before attaining womanhood." aaid Edda, bittfflx. JJ But I havfl strong vitality, and I presume I shall live to grow old. Life has been full of strange experiences to me during the past three months. Mr. Nizbit dis- owned me as his nit ce, and sent me to you. You, madam, repudiated me utterly, but kindly give me shelter and a home. I have learned of late that my father's name was Henry Brend that he was a fashiouable young man who pretended to be your lover, and who secretly married a woman who became my mother. Is Henry Brend, dead, Miss Powys?" Yes he's dead." Perhaps he left other children ?" suggested Edda. No you were your mother's only child." "Will you tell me something of this Henry Brend—my father ?" asked Edda, gently. I am going away in the morning, and I may never have another chance to learn anything of my parentage. At least let me know if I may love his memory." Miss Powys started as if stung, and said, in a passionate quivering voice, as if unable to main- tain reserve longer "Edda, Henry Brend was a, base, villainous fellow, who met with a terrible fate which he had fully merited. I do not know that he was really named Henry Brend. I have sometimes thought th,t the name was assumed. I think that he was of foreign birth he had the look of a Spaniard. And I have seen him when there was a demon of murder and hatred in his eyes. I—but why spaak of him ? He wvs a vile, miserable coward—a high- bred, smooth-voiced ruffian." And he was my father ?" Your father—yes." Edda shuddered. What was my mother ?" she asked, in a low voice. She was a foolish, love-sick girl, a mere child, wilful, headstrong and disobedient," said Miss Powys, still in that passionate voice. "She loved the Spanish eyes, the swarthy cheeks of her adorer; she believed in his romantic speeches. He loved her with a wild sort of pnssion as Spaniards often love, and the girl was fascinated and en- thralled by him. She had no mother her father was absorbed in business cares and gave little thought to her; her governess was a selfish, incapable woman-in short, the girl of sixteen made a secret marriage with her Spanish lover. For a month she lived in a very dream of Paradise. Then came the awful awakening. She found that her husband was a villain. And then came the shock of his terrible fate." Did she never acknowledge her marriage ? "Never-never How could she? Her father was proud and had high hopes for her future. She was proud, too. She believed that her hus- band's real name might not be known to her. He had proved a low adventurer, a mere ruffian with the outward polish of a gentleman. Acknowledge her marriage ? To whom was she married ? She never really knew. She loathed her folly and wickedness, she feared her father; she dared not acknowledge her mad marriage." Not even for the sake of her child ? "Not even for its sake, Edda. She had no love for her innocent offspring. She stole away with her faithful maid to a lonely dwelling in a far corner of England, and there her child was born. She left it there and returned to her splendid home, and no one dreamed of the mystery of her life-no one in all the world save her trustworthy serving- woman. But, Edda, let me tell you that the poor young mother's conscience did not always sleep. She thought at night of her little abandoned child, and wet her pillow with her tears. But as years went on she thought less in love of that child than in fear. What if the child were to find her out ? What was to become of the child ? What to be her destiny ?, .Thjese were questions so terrible that she could find no answer to them." She lives then still, my mother!" breathed Edda, softly. Miss Powys started. In her passionate out- burst, she had said more than she had intended. You need not fear to tell me," said Edda. I shall not presume upon your confidence nor press my inquiries further. But tell me, does my mother live ? There was a long silence. Then Miss Powys 0 said, in a whisper Yes, she lives." Edda'a dark face paled her dusky eyes glowed, but she moved no nearer to the lady and uttered no cry of surprise. She only siid, gently 1 have read in the Bible that the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. It has been so with me." Miss Powys stilled a low sob. "I have told you thus much, Edda," she said presently, in a quavering voice, because I know you to be generous, and I want you to think more kindly of—of your uuhappy mother. She sinned, but God alone knows how she has suffered. It is too late for that ill-advised marriage to be acknowledged. You must go through life fatherless and motherless, with a cloud upon your origin but that will be a thousand-fold better than for you to claim Henry Brend as your father. Since you came here, and I have learned how Bunny and brave and unselfish you are, how good and sweet and pure is your entire nature, I have learned to love you, Edda—to love you with a passionate yearning my heart never knew before. I own all this to you that I may be the better able to persuade you to stay with me. Give over this project of going to Scotland. Stay with me. Be my secret comfort. Love me, if you can, Edda. No mother ever loved a daughter us I love you. I will cherish you in secret this flimsy pretence of companionship will be thrown aside, and I will adopt you as my sister, and will make a will constituting you the sole heiress of all my fortune." She pleaded as one pleads for life. She held out her arms in a passionate tenderness, her face wet with tears. Edda was not less proud than Miss Powys had avowed herself, but something in the lady's face and look thrilled her being, and with a swift, impulsive movement, the girl sprang forward and was clasped in Miss Powys's embrace. Tears and kisses were rained upon her head with a passion that startled her tender words were lavished upon her loving names greeted her. The fondest mother never breathed softer caresses upon her idolized little child than the proud banker's daughter bestowed upon the girl whose heid was pillowed on her bosom. "I knew you would stay, my darling-my dar- ling breathed Miss Powys at last. Edda gently disengaged herself and stood apart, sorrowful and troubled. "No, I cannot stay," she said. "You forget Mr. Upham. After what you have just said to me, I should find it impossible to remain. Believe me —I am cot resentful, not angry. All that is passed with me forever. I pity you I love you. If the time ever comes when you shall be free to have me live with you, and my coming will not cause you more of pain and trouble than of pleasure, I will come. But now 1 must go." Miss Powys pleaded and protested, but Edda was immovable. "I am right," said the girl. "You will see later that I am right. Let me go, I entreat you." "But as a servant, a companion, while I am rich-I cannot. To know that you are subject to the caprices and eccentricities of that old Woman who has driven from her all her kindred-impos- sible You will be safer when I am gone," said Edda. u I mt go. if but for & few months. When Mr. Upham shall have forgotten me and his suspicions, or when he shall have left this homo, I may come back. But you cannot send him out of the house now without arousing Mr. Powys' suspicious that something is wrong, or provoking Mr. Upham to do his worst. You see that I must go." The little brunette beauty, with her strong will, had her own way. Miss Powys was obliged to yield to her. The two sat long together in Edda's room that evening, and after Miss Powys at last withdrew, Edda, declining the aid of Mrs. Priggs, finished packing her boxes. The next morning, under guardianship of Miss Powys' serving-woman, Edda set out for Scotland and Storm Castle. CnAPTER XXIII. AT STORM CASTLE. Ben Storm, or Mount Storm, in the Highlands of Invernessbire, rises to an altitude of over a thous- and feet from base to summit. At its foot lies Loch Storm, a narrow lake shut in by trees. The sloping sides of the mountain are green and fertile till near the top, which is a bald and rugged rock whose only vegetation consists of a few black mountain firs and pines, which seem to spring out of the crevices of stone, or to fasten their bared roots to some bowlder. The very summit of Ben Storm is crowned with Ben Storm Castle, a long and straggling pile of rough gray stone. In the days of Scottish internecine wars, this grim old castle had been the stronghold of a mighty clan, whose chiefs had dwelt here in feudal state. But the days of clannish glory had declined the proud race of the haughty Highland chiefs had dwindled away, and the name of Mac Fingal belonged to the past. A descendant of the Mac Fingals-a woman who had married an Englishman-who was nearly a hundred years old, and who had all the pride and haughti- ness of her ancestors, was now the occupant of the old castle and proprietress of the grand estate. This lady was that Mrs. Vavasour of whom we have spoken as the ancestress of Hellene Clair. She lived here alone, with a retinue of servants, keeping up something of the ancient state for which the castle had been celebrated. It was to be her companion that Edda Brend was travelling northward. It was about the middle of a pleasant afternoon, when Edda and her attendant, Mrs. Priggs, after a leisurely journey up from London, neared their destination, and began their wearisome ascent of Mount Stcrm. They were seated in an open chaise drawn by two rough Highland horses. The road was steep, rough and tortuous, but from various points upon it they could see tar above them, in the sunlight, boldly outlined against the blue-gray sky, the grim old Highland castle, in all its lonely grandeur and desolation. To Edda, from her very first glimpse of it, this mountain-eyrie was full of strange and delightful fascination. She was very silent as they climbed the steep and, in some places, precipitous roads, unheeding alike the joltings of the chaise and the stifled groans and shrieks of Mrs. Priggs. I wouldn't live up here among the clouds —no, not for all the wealth of Mrs. Vavasour," said the serving-woman, fervently and they do say she is that rich that with all her grand living she can't use a tenth part of her income. You'll never like it up here, Miss Edda. Be persuaded by me, and go back with me to London." Edda shook her head with a smile. "I shall like ir np here among the clouds,' she said. I am used to loneliness, you know." Mrs. Priggs renewed her expostulations at various times throughout the ascent, but Edda was immovable. I am one big bruise," lamented the woman, clinging to the carriage-xtraps with both hands. Oh, dear! oh-" With a last jerk and jolt, the chaise came out upon level ground, a bare spot of limited extent in front of the castle, and a minute later drew up in the wide, covered carriage porch with a flourish. An aged footman with powdered wig, plush knee- breeches, silver buckles, silk stockings and pumps, came airily down the steps to receive them. He opened the door of the chaise and conducted Edda and Mrs. Priggs into the castle, while a boy in livery climbed nimbly up to the box with the driver, and showed him the way around to the stables. Edda and her companion were ushered into a grand old hall, of the ancient baronial style, a hundred feet in length and six by feet in width, with massive double doors at each end, flanked by immense windows, which perfectly lighted every nook and corner of the grand apartment. Here, in olden times, the members of the clan of Mac Fingal had met to council or to banquet. The walls were hung with trophies of the chase and with im- plements of sport and battle. The floor, of black polished oak, was bare at the sides, but covered down its length through the centre with wide Indian rugs. The furniture was of black oak, exquisitely polished, and the ceiling, of groined timbers, was black also. Mrs. Priggs had visited, with her beautiful mis- tress, at Storm Castle many times, and she was not so impressed with the old-time grandeur of the place as was Edda. She hastened to make known to the aged servitor the name of Miss Brend, the fact that the young girl was a protege of Miss Powys, and also that Edda was no doubt expected by Mrs. Vavasour, to whom she begged the foot- man to proceed at oncc wit h Miss Brend's card. Nay, nay," said the servitor, shaking his powdered wig. "Idarenago to Mrs. Vavasour, at this moment, but I will send the card to her to let her know of the arrival. She gave orders that the young leddy was to be shown to her ain room on arrival, and my leddy will see her half an hour hence in the red drawing-room." The footman toticliedt beilnear at hand and a trim housemaid came tripping into the hall. She took charge of the new-comers, and conducted them up-stairs to rooms which had been prepared for them. "My lady will see you in half an hour, miss," sa6id the housemaid, politely. I will come to conduct you to her presence." She withdrew, leaving Edda alone. A little later the young girl was joined by Mrs. Priggs, who hastened to unpack one of the boxes that had been brought up, and to assist at Edda's toilet. "My mistress charged me particularly, Miss Edda," said the serving-woman, "to make you look your prettiest before your meeting with Mrs. Vavasour, who is veiy peculiar, \ery eccentric, and who has a very high opinion of first impressions. I do hope, Miss Edda, that she will take a fancy to you, for you are better off here than in London, and ought not to have been allowed to remain over-night in Cavendish-square." Mrs. Priggs sighed, and her brows contracted with a heavy anxiety. Edda sighed, too, but made no response in words. Mrs. Priggs proceeded to lay out upon the bed the various articles of the young girl's costume, while Edda, with natural curiosity, bestowed some attention upon her apartment. It was a very long and very high room, with an immense fire-place set with quaint old tiles, on which were painted odd scenes, illustrative of life in Holland a hundred years ago. The floor was of wood, dark as ebony, and exquisitely polished. Before the hearth, the great high- posted, heavy canopied bedstead the low, soft. couches, the dressing-bureau, and under the centr§ • table were larae .and heavy rugs. edged with thick, short fringe. There were several windows drapeiied with silks and lace. Upon the wide and massive oaken mantel- piece were a dainty French clock and a pair of gilded girandoles bearing a forest of tall wax candles; and upon the centre-table, surrounded by books, was a German student-lamp. Before j one of tLc windows stood an easy-chair, with a tiger-skin rug, and a dainty writing-table before it. The general aspect ot the room was one of spaeious- ness, luxury and supreme comfort. By the time Edda's comprehensive survey was made, Mrs. Priggs was ready to proceed with the young girl's toilet, which was immediately entered upon. Before the half hour of grace had expired, Edda was ready to descend to the drawing ro>m. Mrs. Priggs retired to her own room, which was near at hand, and reappeared in a fresh cap with near at hand, and reappeared in a fresh cap with lavender ribbons, and with a fresh collar and cuffs, just as the housemaid returned to conduct Edda to the drawing-room. You are to come too, Mrs. Priggn," said the housemaid, primly. "My leddy wishes to see you also." Mrs. Priggs had expected the summons, and had intended, in any case, to accompany Edda into Mrs. Vavasour's presence. She had in her pocket a let er from Miss Powys, introducing Edda to the lady of Storm Castle, and it was her intention to deliver this letter with her own hands. She fol- lowed Edda and her guide, therefore, with a grave and important air, as befitted her sense of responsi- bility. They passed down the grand staircase, crossed the staircase hall, and were ushered into a draw- ing-room. At the first glance Edda saw that it was unoccupied. It was an immense room, with a bow window at each end, and five wide windows at one side, all opening upon a marble terrace. In its stately proportions, with its exquisitely-painted walls and ceilings, its luxurious furniture, and its air of grandeur, this magnificent apartment would have befitted a queen's palace. The click click of dainty boot-heels, accompanied by the tapping sound of a walking-stick, came from the uncarpeted hall without then the door by which Edda had entered swung open again noiselessly, and the lady of Storm Castle came into the room. Edda started back involuntarily. She knew that Mrs. Vavasour was nearly a hundred years old. She expected to find her decrepit, probably helpless, certainly in her second childhood. She beheld instead the realisa- tion of her childish ideal of Cinderella's fairy god- mother. A little, slender, withered person, somewhat bent under the weight of years, with a slight hump between her high shoulders, with a quick, bird-like movement of her head, a nose like an eàgle's beak, a pointed ohin project- ing far beyond her face, a sallow complexion with singularly few wrinkles upon it, a pair of shaggy white brows under which burned a pair of restless, fiery black eyes, a low forehead, above which was a heavy mass of thick white hair, a quick, sus. picious glance, a sardonic expression about the thin, shrivelled lips, a proud, haughty, disdainful demeanour-this was Mrs. Vavasour. Her witch-like appearance was heightened by her dress. She wore a long robe cf scarlet velvet, trimmed with ermine; her little trim boots were of scarlet velvet also, and a circular-shaped cloak of ermine fur was gathered about her. A high lace ruff encircled her yellow neck. Diamonds glittered from her ears and throat; her little withered hands were burdened with superb jewels, and the gold head of her walking-stick was studded with shining gems. If Edda was surprised at Mrs. Vavasour's appearance, that lady was not less surprised at Edda's. The slender, supple figure, the small, dark, vivacious face, the little head covered over thickly with short jetty rings of hair, the bright black eyes so cool and keen in their glances, yet so full of underlying sadness and possibilities of tenderness, the proud, red mouth, the youthful grace-all these commanded the aged lady's admiration as well as awakened her surprise. I am Mrs. Vavasour,' said- the littk lady of Storm Castle, with the concentrated pride of all the haughty race of MaeFingals, and as if declaring herself queen of Scotland. "And you are the young lady whom Miss Powys was so good as to send to me at my request to be my companion- you are Miss Brend ? Edda bowed, and Mrs. Vavasour requested her to be seated. The old lady then turned her atten- tion to Priggs, who stood stiffly at a little distance with a letter in her hands. How do you do, Priggs ?" said Mrs. Vavasour, condescendingly, You have taken very good care of your charge, I ehould say. How did you leave Miss Powys ?" U Very well indeed, ma'am—my lady, I should say," replied Mrs. Priggs, so confused by the little old lady's stateliness as to feel and seem awkward. Miss Powys sent a letter to you, which she charged me to give you with my own hands, ma am, and here it is." There was a small silver card-tray lying careless- ly upon the table near. Mrs. Priggs espied it, laid her letter npon it, and presented it to Mrs. Vavasour. You may sit down, Priggs," said the centenar- ian, graciously. Miss Brend, if you will excuse me, I will just glance at Miss Powys's letter. Of course Edda made no objections, and Mrs. Vavasour sat down and perused the letter. It was one which the banker's daughter would have hesi- tated to intrust to the post, and yet there was no avowal in it of any mystery connected with Edda, and no declaration of her absolute identity. The letter stated that Miss Brend was the orphan daughter of an early friend of Miss Powys that Miss Powys would have been glad to keep the girl with her, but for Edda's sense of independence that the girl was a lady by birth and breeding; that she was very dear to Miss Powys, who iutended to provide for her amply in the future. The writer begged Mrs. Vavasour to treat Edda with all possible consideration and kindness, and in the event of not wanting her to send her back to Miss Powys under suitable esoort. The letter breathed a spirit of great tenderness and yearning toward the girl, a fact which surprised the old lady, who looked upon Miss Powys as cold and heartless. "Humph!" muttered the centenarian, when! Bhe had concluded her perusal of the letter. So Agnace Powys has a heart, after all, and this girl has touched it. She must be a strange sort of a girl." Her words were inaudible to Edda and to Mrs. Priges, and she added in a louder tone, addressing the latter "Iwill answer the letter, Priggs, in writing. You may remain, if you choose, through my inter- view with Miss Brend." The old lady then turned abruptly toward Edda, and regarded her very keenly, as if studying her countenance, and through it her character. Humph 1" said she, in a croaking sort of voice, her projecting chin and beak-like nose almost meet- ? ing as she spoke. I wrote a letter to my young friend, Miss Powys, asking her to find me a com- < panion-not a meek Uriah Heep sort of creature, who would go round sighing and deprecating, as if begging to be permitted to exist—not a snivelling, tearful kind of woman, who thinks Providence has injured her in making her poor—not a crying kind v of'creature, who wiiPpeep into my desk; read my letters, and listen at my dnor-and not a scheming person, who will fawn upon me and pretend to love me, and count upon getting her name into my will. I have had all these varieties of com- panion, and I want something different. You look different from any companion I have had. What induces you to leave London and Miss Powys, and bury yourself up here among the lonely High- lands She leaned her long, curved chin upon the head of her walking-stick, and looked at Edda with increasing sharpness. She was evidently suspicious of the motives of one so young and beautiful in seeking employment in her house, notwith- standing Miss Powys's earnest recommendation of Edda. The inducement was money," replied the girl, quietly. I wanted to find a situation, and asked Miss Powys to secure me one. She received your latter opportunely, Mrs. Vavasour, and offered to recommend me to you. I was born and bred on a wild Yorkshire moor, and shall not mind the loneliness of Storm Castle." Humph I" said the centenarian. Young people are not apt to like loneliness. You look as if you were of a merry and social disposition. What do you expect to make out of me ?" I expect a good salary, ma'am, and a home." Humph muttered the old lady. Do you know, Miss Brend, that I live here all alone the year around, with twenty servants to wait upon me, and without a soul to keep me company save when, in summer, the humour take me to in- vite a few guests ? All alone, mind you, with the minister to dine with me once a week, with the family physician or neighbour now and then to visit me for the day, but with no other relief to what must prove to you a horrible monotony. I am touchy, suspicious, ill-tem- pered. Now you could easily have got a situation near or in London, and I can't conceive what made you so eager to come up here. I am apt to suspect people of having designs upon me-Heaven knows I have generally good grounds for my suspicions-and although Miss Powys praises you very highly, she may be mistaken in you. There are people living who hope to inherit my fortune at my death. Have you any connection with them ?" None whatever, ma'am." "And you have no ulterior object in coming here ? Nothing beyond serving me and getting a good salary ?' I had no other object in coming here, Mrs. Vavasour," said Edda, a little impatiently. "What other object could I have? How can I know the persons who hope to inherit your money ? As to your ill-temper, I was warned of that, but I shan't mind it. If it does you good to scold me, you can indulge in the exercise as muoh as you please. You are old, and I suppose age is privileged to be cross. If you want me to stay, I will stay. If you want me to go, I will go. If you keep me now and afterwards get tired of me, it will be easy to send me away. The matter, you see, is exceedingly simple. And it really does not make a bit of difference to me which way you decide," added Edda, quietly. If you don't want me, I can easily get another situation—and I'd just as soon go somewhere else." Good Lord groaned Mrs. Priggs, under her breath. "Miss Edda's done it now. The old lady will hardly let us stay tiU morning. Mrs. Vavasour finds a match now for her own hot temper and haughty spirit, I'm thinking but why couldn't Miss Edda be meek ? Dear, dear, she s born to trouble, sure enough." Mrs. Vavasour observed Mrs. Priggs's look of keen distress, and smiled sardonically. Then her glance returned to Edda, and she said, with a shade less of haughtiness, and a shade more of kindness Well, well, it's a comfort that you don't show a truckling spirit, Miss Brend. I hate your fawn- ing women. I believe I'll give you a trial. As you say, if I don't line you it will be easy to send you away. What can you do ?" Whatever you want me to do, ma'am. I want to earn my money." II Humph 1 Well that is something new. Wants to earn her money I never heard that expression before," and a gleam of humour appeared in the old lady's restless black eyes. "I'll tell you what I shall require. I have a maid, an elderly woman, who is really and truly devoted to me. She has lived with me as my maid for forty years, and she's only fifty-seven now. I have a skilful seam- stress too so what I want of you is companion- ship in the fullest sense of the word. I am often lonely. I want you to sing to me, to read to me, to play on the piano and organ for me, to talk to me, to drive with me, to sit with me-to be with me through the day and evening, and make your- self agreeable to me. If you know when to speak and when to be silent, I shall be pleased. I hate a chatterbox. I had one last year, and she talked me nearly to death." "I will do my best to suit you, madam," said Edda. If I don't suit you, or if I don't like it here, I can leave." Let me hear you read." Edda took up a book from the table and opened it at random reading a page aloud. The centen- arian was pleased to approve the distinct enunoiation and perfect elocution. "A good voice, and well trained. Now let me hear vou sine. O' There was a grand piano in the room. Edda seated herself before it and played a difficult operatic air, then rendered with rare skill and spirit a bravura, and concluded with a tender Soottish ballad, which she sang with a sweetness and sympathy that made it inexpressibly charming. When she arose and returned to her chair, Bhe was surprised at the softness that almost trans- figured for a moment Mrs. Vavasour's witch-like face, and at the tender melting of her beady, hard, black eyes. That is the first music I have heard in years," said the centenarian, drawing a long breath, and I love music. I don't call the crashing of piano keys after a set fashion and in a set time music. But the exquisite harmonies of the instrument which awaken kindred harmonies in my spirit —which touch, elevate and arouse me out of myself these I call music, whether they are evoked from the piano, the organ, or the grove of tall mountain pines below my window. I shall want you to play and sing to me often. It is settled that you are to stay. The remainder of your accomplishments we will leave for time to discover. Edda bowed gravely. Miss Powys tells me that you come of a good family, and that you are an orphan," continued Mrs. Vavasour. "She speaks with affection of you, and it will not be necessary, therefore, for me to inquire into your history or your past life. You are to remain with me. Priggs, you may be excused. Go down to the housekeeper's room and tell her to make you comfortable." Mrs. Priggs courtesied and retired. She had scarcely vanished when a solemn-faced, brawny Scotsman, of herculean proportions, attired in a black dress suit, and wearing a big white wig, appeared at the door of the drawing-room, and ceremoniously announced that dinner waited. Mrs. Vavasour arose, bidding Edda, attend her, and slowly made her way to the dining-room, her boot-heels keeping time with the clicking sound of hercane. The dlning-hall of S'orm Castle was, in size and grandeur of in keeping willi the entrance hall ami diawing-room. It was a noble apartment, with painted walls and ceilings, panelled pictures, and immense windows looking out upon a large and exquisite flower-garden, the soil for which had all been brought up from the fertile lower slopes of the mountain. The dinner was elegantly served, and was fault- less in every respect. A large square block of ice served as the central ornament, and its slow rain dripped over upon ft bed of. cool white Victoria Regfas beneath". The windows were ajar, and the pure mountain air stole into the room. The feast and its surroundings were worthy the most luxurious sybarite. Soft-stepping servants waited at the table, supplying wants before the wants were felt by the diners. Mrs. Vavasour talked with brilliancy and with a caustic wit which Edda enjoyed. Life at Storm Castle was not the utterly barren thing the girl had expected, when intellect and sense were alike thus charmed. After dinner, Kdda returned with Mrs. Vavasour to the drawing-room. She talked with the old lady for an hour or two, and then, being excused because of the fatigues of her journey, retired to her own room. 1'118, Priggs soon joined here here. "It's all settled thtt y-ou nro to stay, Miss Edda, thanks be to 1 leaven." said tin serving woman, fer- vently. WiL)i Nlr. U iiii,tiii iii Llic jiouse, you can never go back to the house in Cavendish Square, ui):e.-s you want to ruin Miss Agnace. I never liked Mr. Uph am, never and now he's proved hhn>e\f a regular serpent." Yes, I call never go back," said Edda, sighing. "But I shall like it here, I know. When do you iutend to return to London?" I shall leave Storm C-ist'.e on the morning oi the day after to-morrow, Miss Edda. Miss Agnaoe said that I was to stay here one entire day, to make sure that you were contented to remain. Puor Miss Agnace i It almost broke her heart to have you earning your own living like this but what couid she do? She's in a sore strait, poor lamb Mrs. Priggs wiped a tear from her grim face, and walked to a farther corner of the room, thus ter- minating the conversation. Edda slept very peacefully in her tall, carved, high-posted bedstead that night, and the next morning she was astir at daylight, and had taken an extensive ramble over the mountain before break- fast time. She came in to the morning meal and to Mrs. Vavasour as bright and sparkling as dew in sunshine. After breakfast, the old lady said to her Nli,s Brend, I would like you to get ac- quainted with the castle and its surroundings before you begin the routine of daily life. This forenoon my housekeeper shall show you over the rooms, and this afternoon you will drive with me down the mountain." The statement was equivalent to a command. After breakfast the housekeeper, a spare, angular, severe-faced woman, with grey hair, and dressed in black silk, appeared, and was introduced to Edda. She took the young girl in charge, and proceeded to convey her through the state chambers of the castle, recounting particulars con- cerning each with the monotonous tone and accuracy of statement characteristic of well-trained professional guides. The lesser drawing-room, the parlours, the mag- nificent library, the beautiful breakfast-room, Mrs. Vavasour's boudoir and study, were all duly exhibited. The guest chambers were displayed, I and the housekeeper recounted the names of the notabilities who had slept in them. And, last of all, they proceeded to the picture-gallery, a long and lofty room upon the upper floor, lighted by a gigantic glazed dome in the roof. The floor was of polished dark woods, as were also walls and ceiling. The walls were literally covered with pictures, many of them eenturies old. Here the housekeeper was in her glory. She began at one end of the room, and gave the names of the originals of the pictures, who were for the most part Highland chiefs in costume, and rehearsed the glories of the ancient race of Mao Fingal with an ardour that showed how zealously she was attached to the traditions of her clan. It was a sad day when my lady, the last of the MacFingals, married the soft-voiced Southron," said Mrs. Macray. "If she had but married a Highlander All has gone wrong since that mar- riage, and yet it was a happy one." "And Mrs. Vavasour is the last of her race said Edda. Who will inherit Storm Castle at her death ?" The housekeeper looked at the girl sharply. "I suppose," replied Mrs. Macray, "that my leddy desired me to show you the castle so that you could ask questions of me, instead of annoying her with them. She knows human nature, and that curiosity is a natural failing. Miss Brend, let me warn you never to question my leddy, or to show any interest in the question of who is to succeed her. She can leave Storm Castle to whomsoever she pleases-the more's the pity 1" Edda did not venture any more inquiries. They passed from picture to picture, those upon one entire side of the room being family portraits. At last they came upon one whose face was turned to the wall. What picture is this?" asked Edda. The old housekeeper's features worked a little, as she answered, in a voice she vainly tried to render calm "That, Miss Brend, is the portrait of Mrs. Vavasour's only living male descendant." But why is it turned to the wall ?' Because-I may as well tell you, Miss, so that you will never venture to allude to the subject in Mrs. Vavasour's hearing. My leddy had ohildren, and grand-ohildren, fine, robust men, and beauti- ful women, but she has outlived them all. And of all her descendants but two are living. One of these is a young woman; the other a young man. They are my leddy's great-great-grand- children. The young woman is the Honourable Miss Hellene Clair, the daughter of Lord Clair and of the rich Miss Vavasour' who married him against my leddy's will. There is no portrait of Miss Hellene Clair in the castle. My leddy would never see her. My leddy does not like the Clair blood, and Miss Hellene will never be my leddy's heiress." But the young man, Mrs. Maoray The housekeeper's face clouded, and her features worked anew, as she said He was the noblest, the gayest, the most beautiful of boys. He grew up to be the noblest of men, with my leddy's own hot temper and high spirit, my leddy's own wilfulness and hatred of restraint, but with a thousand good qualities to overbalance his faults. He was generous as the sun, brave, bright, clever, and he scorned a lie. Every servant in the caBtlti loved him, and it was a dark day a year ago when he and my leddy had a fierce, bitter quarrel, and Bhe turned him off with her curse. The minister has tried in vain to soften my leddy's heart to the young master, but her heart is harder to the lad than a stone. She has made her will leaving him a shilling-he who was all his life her petted, pampered heir, her darling, and her idol." He must have been very bad to forfeit her love." He was not. My leddy had set her heart on marrying him to a young leddy who lives some thirty miles distant from Storm Castle, a great heiress, and of a proud old Mg-hliLn(t family. Her name is Miss Margaret Cameron, of Glen Cameron, and she was dead in love with the young master, and is still. My leddy took a great fancy to her, and Miss Gretta-that's what they call her-has set my leddy against her own flesh and blood, since the young master refused to marry her. They say that our proud young lord-for he was a lord, in all but the empty title-is now earning his bread in London by writing for the newspapers, and that he lives in a garret and starves on a crust. The minister was up to London and found out Master Dugald, and when he came home he came to my leddy and told her a story that would move a stone to tears, but it only made her the more bitter and scornful. The minister told me himself and begged me to use my influence in reconciling these two proud spirits, for Mr. Dugald refused to make any overture of friendship to my leddy. It's nob a month sinee the minister came home, and my leddy has been bitterer than ashes since." What is the name of your young master, Mrs. Macray ? Dugald MacFingal Vavasour." Please let me see his picture, Mrs. Macray," said the young girl, pleadingly. Only one look." The housekeeper hesitated, glanoing over her shoulder toward the door. "Just a look won't matter," muttered Mrs. Macray. And I'm dying myself for a sight of his dear face.—But do not tell. My leddy might be angry. Here it is. Isn't it a bonny face 1" She turned the picture on its wire cord dexter- ously, and displayed the portrait of the deposed heir. Edda uttered a low cry and sank into the nearest seat, her face pale as ashes. (To be continued).




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