Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

7 articles on this Page

LORD WALDEMAR'S HEIR.1

News
Cite
Share

( Copyright.) LORD WALDEMAR'S HEIR. 1 jjY MRS. HARRIET LEWIS, Author of "The Hampton Mystery," 'ra Bailiff's Scheme," "The Lady of Ki1 >■ "Th. Old Life'. Shadow. Game, &c., &c. .I' CHAPTER f. AN IliL-ADYIS^uj) MAHHIAGH. For many year. a feud had existed between the families of F.oyd and Arlyn, which rivalled in intensity d bitterness the ancient enmit-, between t;ab rival houses of Montague anc CapuleA The estates of the two fanilie- adioined each other upon the Tees, in the North Siding of Yorkshire the respective heads, both called Squire by courtesy, were widowers, each with one child; both were well* connected and stood high in the county; and there were many reasons why a friendship between them would have been eminently proper and suitable. But both were hot-tempered, proud and un- forgiving, and their hatred for each other bad grown with their years until it had become a vindictive passion which even their nearest friends no longer dared to combat. The cause of the feud had arisen in the early manhood of both men, soon after each had come into possession of his estate. There was in their neighbourhood a peculiarly productive farm, which had formerly belonged to the Arlyn family, but which had been sold by young Squire Arlyn's father. Arlyn desired to repurchase this farm, and Squire Floyd also desired to possess it. Both offered high for it, but Floyd, having more money, had outbid his neighbour and added the farm to his already ample manor. Arlyn, angry and disappointed, had sought and found a flaw in the conveyancol of the property from his father to the pe son of whom Floyd had bought it, and had insti- tuted a lawsuit, which was waged furiously for years, at great expense to both parties, and! which had resulted in the victory of Floyd. The latter's open exultation at his triumph was gall and wormwood to his defeated oppo- ne From that day forward each had avoided tli, her an an embodied pestilence each called the other an unscrupulous villain; and each had sought in various ways to injure and to bring the other into contempt. As they grew in years active hostilities subsided into an implacable and unreasoning hatred, as we have aid, and their enmity was all the more terrible since it found no vent. Squire Arlyn, after the death of "his young wife, "went to the dogs," as the saying is. He developed a passion for races, had a racing stable, and invested large sums in promising young horses, which invariably failed to win at the races at which he entered them. As his faith in his horses was] always evidenced by heavy and reckless betting, his fine fortune melted away year by year, and his estate became encumbered with heavy mortgages. jt Arlyn's affairs came at last to a desperate pass, and but one chance stood between him and absolute ruin. That chance was the possibility of success of a thoroughbred filly which the aporting Squire had entered at the Epsom races. Upon the success of this racer he staked all bis hopes. He was heavily in debt; his free- hold estate was on the point of being sold from him; and his wild courses had alienated from him all his friends and relatives, with the ex- ception of his only child. Full of eager expectation that his luck must turn at last, and inflated with the gambler's strange infatuation, he staked more than his hopes upon the Sl;, rRS of his filly; he betted every penny he hfv in the world—all his personal property- hit orses even, and his household furniture. Lut fate was not to be propitiated. He lost the race, and was a beggar! That night he shot himself through the head, at the little inn near the Epsom course. His sporting comrades made up a purse among themselves, after the coroner's inquest had decided that Henry Arlyn "bad committed suicide in a fit of temporary insanity," and sent his body home to Yorkshire, where it was buried among his kindred. Upon the very day of Squire Arlyn's ill- attended funeral, and only a few hours later, Squire Floyd was walking to and fro in his magnificent library, with a thoughtful expression on bis face. He was now about fifty years of age, and of striking and distinguished appearance. He was six feet tall, with a grand and noble figure, a broad chest and massive limbs. His large head was thickly covered with grizzled hair, and his bronzed, stern face was relieved by a heavy Erizzled moustache, which completely shaded is mouth. Squire Floyd was the remote scion of a nolile family, and there was a possibility-very faint, it is true, but still a possibility—that he might yet succeed to a peerage. He was testy, irasci- ble, and impatient, and possessed a wicked temper, yet, except in his relations to his neigh. bour, be was honourable, upright, generous to a fault, warmhearted, and full of genial kindli- ness. The fading light of the dull, grey February day came in at the wide western windows, but the corners and niches of the long and lofty room were already full of lurking shadows. The busts surmounting the low, richly-carved book- cases lining the walls began to look like spectral heads peering through the gathering gloom. Outside there was snow in the air, and a fierce wind was blowing; but within the ruddy flames of three sea-coal tires behind polished grates at equal distances along one side of the room made brightness, warmth and cheer. In the midst of the Squire's reverie the door opened softly, and a young man came into the room. k He was l)arrel AToer, the. son of Squire Floyd's sister, and an especial favourite with his uncle, who bad given him a home since his early orphanage, and had beatowe<f upon him all the advantages of education. He was not yet twenty years of age, tall, dark as an Italian, and endowed with a bold, dark beauty that was almost fascinating. He was poor, his father having squandered a fortune, and he was there- fore a dependant upon the Squire, who designed him for an army career—a prospect by no means to Darrel Moer's taste, he having the tastes of a Sybarite, and a woman's keen appreciation of luxury. "Is it you, Darrel?" said the Squire im- Sitiently, looking towards the door. "I told rimrod when he went out just now to send Wallace to me. Where is rr.v son ? "He went out some two or three hours ago, before Grimrod came in," replied Moer, in a soft, effeminate voice. "The snow will soon drive him in. We're going to have a rough night, uncle. Old Ailyn will hardly sleep easy in his new-made grave." Squire Floyd fr ned, and quickened his impatient tread. Darrel Moer walked to the treat west window and looked out into the gathering twilight. Presently the Squire spoke again. "I have good news for Wallace," he said; "I am sure the bov will be pleased. The Arlyn estate is to be sold immediately, and I have empowered Grimrod to buy it in for me. It will hardly do for me to appear at the sale, but no one can find fault with the presence of my business manager. As the property is to be sold for cash, and as I have more ready money than any man in the neighbourhood, I am sure to get the estate, and Grimrod says I shall get it at a low figure. When that property is added to mine, Floyd Manor will be one of the finest estates in the county. The very name of Arlyn will be wiped out, as it deserves to be, and my boy will have a noble heritage. II wonder what Henry Arlyn would have said if' be had known who was to succeed him. Darrel Moer's face darkened strangely. brilliant prospects of Squire Floyd s son anc. heir were a perpetual spring of bitterness and secret discontent to him. He contrasted !1!" own prospects with those of his fortunate cousin continually, and he had grown to regard young Floyd with a jealous and unreasoning hatred, that only waited opportunity to find expression. "You are right, uncle," he said, in a jarring voice. "Wallace will have a glorious inheri- tance. The Arlyn property has run down during the last ten years, I)z,t you will soon restore it to more than its former prosperity. But what is to become of Arlyn's daughter?" "What is Arlyp's daughter to me? de- manded the Squire irritably. "If she has lundred, let her go to Hieni. She's been at a j boarding-school all her life until this last year, and must be competent to go out as a gover- ness. That would be- a fine come down l'or Ili,, daughter of the nrOl,d Squire Arlyn. like coward, has siiirkfd the poverty and ruini U brouglil (,- himself and his child, and left 'fio^ it and to bear it alone." never'll be a governess,'7 said Moer 9' "She's too young and nrettv for that. Besides," and a sinister smile curled about his thin lips, and a quick ;leam shot into his black eyes, "^Wallace Floyd .vuuld never allow Janet Arlyn to work tor her living ?" "And why should he not?" cried the Squire haughtily. What should he care for one of the accursed race of Arlvn ? My son has never seen the girl, and if he had, he is too much hi» father's son to look twice upon her face! Darrel Moer turned about and faced his uncle with a calm, impassive countenance, his brows slightly arched, as in surprise. "My dear uncle," he said, "have you never read the play of Romeo and- Juliet ? Are TOU not aware that, despite the enmity of the heads of their respective houses, the young people fell in love with each other? If a look could have killed, then might Darrel Moer have fallen dead at his nude's feet. Squire Floyd's countenance became fairly apoplectic in its rage. For a moment his anger held him speechless; then he cried out: "How dare you jest on a subject like this? Do you not know that I would rather see my son dead and buried than see him married to an Arlyn-to a child of the man I hated? Never venture upon such a jest again, Darrel, for another utterance like this would cause your expulsion from my house. Remember, boy I "I have not jested, uncle, "said Moer depre- catingly. "I did not mean to offend you. But young people do not always see with the eye. of their elders, and Wallace loves Janet Arlyn. Forgive me! I did not mean to betray him. What am I saying ? Let me go, uncle-l- He moved towards the door, but Squire Floyd with his long strides overtook him and seized upon his shoulder with a grip of iron. "Explain yourself, young man, he ejaculated hoarsely. "You have dared to traduce my ■on. You say he lov Janet Arlyn ? Take back the lie-take it back "It is no lie," said Darrel Moer in a voice of apparent sorrow. "It is the truth, uncle. Curse me if yon will, but, I am telling you the truth. During the past year, while Squire Arlyn has been down at his stables in Surrey training and superintending his horses, his daughter has lived alone at the Grange, with her housekeeper and a few servants, and Wallace has met her often under the willows by the river where the estates join, and "It's false! It's a lie!" interrupted the Squire roughly. Moer made another movement to depart, but his uncle held him closely a prisoner. "Go on with your falsehood!" said the Squire, nearly choked with rage. "Traduce my son to the fullest extent. I want to hear all you are capable of saving, you treacherous hound, before I kick you out of the house I You hear ? Go on! Moer trembled in actual foar, but went on with his story. "There's not much left to tell," he said, his lips white and tremulous. "Wallace loves Janet Arlyn, and hopes to soften your hatred towards her family and to marry her. The girl is not to blame for her father's faults, he I 8aJS; and he says too that you and Arlyn were both to blame." "So he sets himself up as my judge, doee he?" demanded the Squire hotly. I don't believe you, Darrel Moer. I can't see what object you have in lying to me, but I would sooner believe you lie than to believe my son false to all my teachins and linked with my enemies. I will quest: Wallace himself. If he denies your state:, 1'11 turn you adriftl this very night! Find Wallace. Send him to me. Go He relaxed his hold upon his nephew, who went out fr n his presence with a strange smile upon his lips. He traversed the length of the grand central hall, and turned into a side passage which gave i upon a side porch and a flower-garden. This, passage was not yet lighted, and was full of i shadows. The porch door was open, and just j outside, in the shelter of tha porch roof, two: figures were faintly visible, one standing in a shrinking attitude close under the protecting arm of the other. The figures were those of a young man and woman. Darrel Moer approached the porch, halting upon the threshold. "Thank God you have oome, Diirrel! pai i the young man outside, in a low, NIger voico. "Have wm seen my father ? Iiave you told him ? What does he say ? I have seen him, Wallace," replied Moer, cautiously glancing back over his shoulder. "I have prepared hi n, but have not told him all. He was angry, of course, but you will not find him implacable." "Heaven be praised!" murmured Wallace Floyd. "O Darrel, I shall never forget your kindness—never! I shall owe all the happi- ness of my life to you. It was you who en- couraged me in my love for my little Janet. It was you who, when the terrible news came of Squire Arlyn's death, advised me to get a special licence and marry my poor little girl out of hand, and so spare her the anguish of finding herself homeless and sent adrift from! the house where she was born- "Hush, Wallace! interrupted Darrel Moer nervously. Someone may hear you "All the world may know of your brotherly kindness to me," said Wallace Floyd fervently. "O Darrel, I'm so happy—yet so frightened. I am almost sorry I yielded to your advice and peauasions. I might have begged father's con-1 sent first, you know. I am afraid it will Iseem treacherous to him,'and I could not bear that. I love my father next to Janet—my poor little Janet! The young woman on Floyd's arm clung to him with a half-suppressed sob. 0 Wallace," she whispered, "if he should not forgive us! "He will forgive you," said Moer treacher- ously. "He has only to look in your pretty, face, Janet, to welcome you as his daughter. His quarrel was with your father, not with you. Are you two really married ? "Yes," said Wallace Floyd; "we were married not an hour ago, by special licence a. you advised. Janet's home is to be sold to- morrow, and she has nowhere to go. I hare followed your counsels exactly, Darrel. You are clearer-headed than I, and can judge better of father's probable course in the matter. I should have deferred our marriage but for you." You have done well," said the treacherous counsellor, with a thrill of evil exultation at hi. heart. "My uncle is in the library. You had better go to him directly. Don't mind his anger, Wallace and Janet, but conquer him by your love." He stepped aside, and Wallace Floyd and his newly-wedded young bride entered the passage and slowly made their way to the central hall, Janet clung to her young husband in fear and Janet clung to her young husband in fear and trembling, and the pair opened the door and went into the library. The firelight filled the room with a ruddy! glow; the red gleams danced upon the Turkey carpet, and upon the luxurious couches, easy-! chairs, writing-tables and bookcases. It fell also upon the stern, set face of Squire Floyd, who was walking to and fro like a caged lion. "So you've come, Wallace?" he exclaimed, as bis son appeared. "I want to ask-- Who is that with you ? What woman is that, I say ? he cried tempestuously. "Father," said Wallace Floyd pleadingly, turning his pale, honest, frightened face to his father's gaze, "forgive me. I bad not realised until this moment what I have done. I have been rash, ungrateful and hasty, father, but I beg you to pardon me-to pardon us. Father, this is Janet." Squire Floyd sneered. "Janet!" he repeated -"Janet Arlyn! I should not have thought that the daughter of Henry Arlyn would have ventured under my roof he said angrily. "Neither would she, exceptasons of your family, father," said Wallace, upholding his young bride with an arm that trembled. "She is no longer Janet Arlyn, father, but Janet Floyd. She is my wife." The Squire uttered a yell that reached even to the ears of his nephew, lurking outside the library door in the hall. Moer slipped softly into the room, remaining near the door. "Your wife?" repeated the father, turning white as death, "Your wife ? "Yes, father. Janet -is my wife," repeated Wallace, summoning up all his courage. "We were married within the hour by special licence. We are both of age, and the marriage cannot be set aside. I beg you to receive Janet as your daughter." "Never! Never!" interrupted the Squire, with a frightful gaUa, "Xpu hard tfwsea if ally yourself with my enemies. Wallace Floyd, and henceforth you also are my enemy. 31 curs* you and yours. As yo:i have made your bed, you must lie on it. You are no longer m" son- "Father I "Do not speak that name again. I hate it I from your lips. You are a penniless beggar, like your wife. I swear that while I live you shall not have one penny from me! And what I can alienate from you at my death, I will iio, do I Leave me, you and i -our-vife The young woman threw off her hood and} came forward, and knelt at the Squire's feetj in an agony of pleading. Siie-was very fair and beautiful, with a sweet and tender face as pure; and lovely as a blossom. Whatever had been ¡ her father's faults, she was noble and good but the Squire spurned her with his foot, and called her by a name so vile that hi son sprang towards her and lifted her "13, saying; "Come, Janet. We will go. "You need never send me begging letters J" cried the Squire, actually foaming at thej mouth. "I will not open them. My only prayer for you both is that you may sleep in' paupers' graves! The son I loved and trusted has cheated and mocked me. May you both be accursed for ever and ever! The young pair turned to depart, over- whelmed with despair. Darrel Moer stepped aside to give them egress. At the door they paused to make a last appeal, but they might 188 well have prayed to a stone. The Squire was beside himself with fury, and heaped curses upon them until even demons might have shuddered. "Go!" he said at last, nearly exhausted by his passion. "You have no longer a father, Wallace Floyd, but I am not without a son. Darrel Moer shall fill your place in my house and home, and every penny I can leave from you shall go to him I Darrel, shew these in- truders the door I" Wallace Floyd and his young bride went out, dazed and bewildered, to begin their life of poverty and exile and the base and successful •cheuaer who had urged on the hasty and ill- advised marriage, and to whom all execration was due, exulted over the success of his vile plans, and muttered, as he stood in the open doorway and watched the young pair walk slowly away into the darkness: "The beat job I ever did in my life I By one bold stroke, I have won for myself a fortune It only remains to keep alive the Squire's anger against his son, and my future is assured! ——— CHAPTER IL LORD WALDBMAB 8 MANAGER. Eighteen years had passed since the stormy. February night in which Wallace Floyd, with his young wife, had been driven forth from his father's house under the fearful burden of his! father's curse. These years had brought rank, honours, and vastly-increased wealth to Squire Floyd, whoj was Squire Floyd no longer. Two lives had stood between him and his succession to a peerage, but these lives had perished, one by I disease and one by accident, and he was now Lord Waldemar, a member of the House of Lords, a man of influence, courted, honoured, respected and feared. He had a house in town, a hunting-box in the Scottish Highlands, and seats in several counties in England; yet, with all his possessions, he was not happy. Did the memory of his boyish son, of whom he had never heard one word since the hour in which he had cast him off, obtrude upon him like a spectre in his hours of solitude ? He had loved his frank and generous-hearted boy with a passionate tenderness in his early days. Did he really hate him now for the rash fault into which he had been urged by the treachery of another? No one knew, for the Squire- Lord Waldemar now-had never spoken his son's name since the hour when he had driven him forth a beggar. It was February again, a stormy night, wild with winds and driving snow, like that night in which Wallace and Janet Floyd had wan- dered forth to suffer poverty and exile. The long and lofty library at Floyd Manor was lighted by a dozen tall wax-candles, which were fixed in the glittering chandelier pendent from the ceiling, and in the three low, polished grates sea-coal fires were flaming, their bright gleams straying out far upon the carpet. The ruddy curtains were drawn, shutting out the wildness of the night, and shutting in all the warmth and glow and brightness. As upon that night eighteen years before, the owner of Floyd Manor was alone in the room. He had been ill at his town house throughout the month of January, and upon his convalescence had come up to the Manor, which, with all his increase of wealth and the possession of the grand ancestral home of the Lords of Waldemar, was still one of his favourite residences. It was here he had been born; here he had spent most of his life here his son had been born, and here his fair young wife, his boy's mother, had died; and the fondest, saddest memories of his existence were linked with the stately old mansion, while his pride exulted in the fact that the Arlyn estate had for eighteen years been merged in his own, and his vindictivenes. delighted in the knowledge that the very name of his enemy had been blotted out of existence, and that Squire Arlyn was remembered only for his wild ways, that had brought ruin upon him- self and family. The years had wrought little change in the appearance of Lord Waldemar. His black eye. were still as keen as a hawk's, his grizzled hair, a little whiter, was as abundant 808 of old, and his heavy moustache, now frost-white, still shaded his mouth. His face was stern and haughty, and with his shaggy white brows, and the cynical curl of his lips, had a certain grundeur that was singularly impressive. His figure was upright as a dart, but it had gained in weight, and he looked a grey and massive Hercules. He had been walking to and fro in the long room, as upon the occasion when first intro- duced to the reader, and he was muttering to himself impatiently, glancing frequently towards the door, as if expecting an arrival. He was about to touch the bell, with a angry frown puon his features, when the door opened, and Grimrod, his business manager, entered the library. "I hope I have not kept you waiting, my lord," said the manager obsequiously, reading aright the expression of the old man's face. "I came at the moment of receiving your ;melsage. Are we to look over the accounts this evening, my lord ? "Yes," returned Lord Waldemar ungraciously. I am lonely, with no one but servants to speak to, and I may as well study accounts as do anything else. I'd better have stayed in London, I think. Somehow, every visit to the Manor 'grows less and less satisfactory to me." Grimrod wheeled an easy-chair close to a large library table for his lordship's use, and went to a huge iron safe that had been built into the wall, and unlocked it, and explored its recesses for his account books. Lord Waldemir's gaze followed the move- ments of his manager. The man was tall, lank and lean, with a swarthy visage and small black eyes, whose every glance was furtive and stealthy. He was some five-and-forty ye,ar. of age, and had keen for five-and-twenty years in the employ of his lordship, who trusted him as he trusted no t other human being. The man was secret and strange and dark, and his face wore an impenetrable and inscrut- able expression. He wore always a close-fitting suit of black, and presented a remarkable resemblance to German pictures of Mephistopheles. Nature had bestowed upon him a powerful intellect of the Macchiavellian qrder, and it was strange that he could content himself with the position of business manager of Lord Waldemar's estates, lucrative as. was the post. He had been pro- moted from the charge of Floyd Manor to the superintendence of the bailiffs, agents, and managers of all his lordship's property, and he was required to visit estate after estate at frequent and irregular intervals but his home was in a grey stone villa near the Manor-house, and it was here he passed his leisure time. Grimrod owed his position to the fact that his father before him had been manager of the Floyd property, and he had been, in fact, educated to succeed his prent.. He was prompt, energetic and far-seeing, and under his supervision and enlightened direction the rentals had been increased one-fourth, in direct ratio witli the increased productiveness of the land. He was a widower, an elderly maiden sister presiding over his household. "Grimrod," said his lordship, his voice bursting abruptly through the stillness, "did vou write to my nephew, as I directed, and inform him that I am at the Manor and riot wall ? "Yea, my lord," re 'led the manager, pro* ducing the books of which lie. was in search, and bringing them to tllt, 'ckl)'te. "I wrote to Mr. Moer that your lordship desired to see him. but he has not qi) returned an an3wer." Lord Waldemar's i. gloomed darkly. "It's very odd," he said testily. "The Court papers chronicled my illness, and Darrel came up to town in hot haste, and remained until I grew better. And then he made off to Lancashire, and what he wants in Lancashire I can't see. He is not visiting anyone that I know. Do you suppose, Grim rod, that he's fallen in love at last, and is likely to be married ? The manager started slightly. Evidently, for some reason known to himself, the sugges- tion was distasteful to him. "I think not, my lord," he said hastily. "Mr. Moer is not easily suited, as you know. He is continually falling in love with pretty face., and as continually falling out again. He i. a. fickle as he is handsome—begging your pardon, my lord—and he rushes from face to face a. a bee Ilie3 from flower to flower." face as a bee flies from flower to flower." pardon, my lord—and he rushes from face to face a. a bee Ilie3 from flower to flower." "That is so, Grimrod," assented his lord- ship. "Darrel is only a great fickle boy at eight-and-thirty. I have urged him to at eight-and-thirty. I have urged him to marry, and he says he will when he has sown all his wild oats. He pretends that he cannot bear to be tied to a lady's apron-string, and that there is time enough in which to think ofl marriage. He is wonderfully handsome, Grimrod." "Yes, my lord." "And wonderfully selfish," said Lord Waldemar. "Self is his idol. I have studied him well in these later- years—in the last five especially, since I have been Baron Waldemar. Grimrod, sometimes I am almost persuaded that my nephew has the soul and the nature of a villain." "My lord!" "Are you «o astonished? Have you never suspec. th is a 1' butter- fly i" demanded the Baron, with a cynical smile. "I had given you credit for more penetration, Grimrod. Perhaps you did not wish to enlighten me ? I understand something of my nephew's character. And he expects to succeed me as owner of all my unentailed estates. He is perhaps waiting for my death, that he may make a higher match. I tell you, Grimrod, he's been a long time sowing his wild oats, and some of them have been very wild. People have sent me tales of the trouble and ruin he has wrought. Great Heaven! Must this man, with his impure and heartless life, succeed me P Grimrod "-and his lordship's voice trembled with a load of anguish, as he burst through the reticence of years—"where is my son ? The manager turned pale, and stared at his employer with startled eyes. ( Your-son, my lord? ho breathed. "Yes. Do yon know what has become of him ? demanded the Baron, striving to calm himself. "I have sworn never to forgive him, and I never will. lie shall bear my curse down to his grave, for his ingratitude and dis- obedience. He is my enemy, but I loved him once, Grimrod. I'd like to know if his father's curse ha. wrought him evil. I—I should be happier to know that he is miserable." Grimrod went in silence to the great safe, the door of which stood ajar, and produced from a hidden door a packet of time-worn letters, three in number, all yellow with age. They were tied together with red tape. "My lord," he said, an odd thrill in his words, "you told me, eighteen years ago, after Mr. Wallace had left his home with the [daughter of your enemy, to bi n any letter. unopened that might come to y -u add) ^ed in his handwriting. There came three letters from him—one in his handwriting, one addressed by a woman evidently, and a third in a strange hand. I could not bear to destroy them, and I hid them away in this old safe. They have never been opened. If you wish to know the fate of your son, the story is probably contained in these three envelopes." lIe held them up in the firelight and candle- light Lord Waldemar glanced at them an instant, and then covered his face with his hands. His pride and anger, which still burnt fiercely against his son, urged him to destroy the letters unopened, but for some moments he did not speak. Grimrod saw that a contest was going- on within his proud breast, and he continued to hold up the letters in plain view. They were all sealed with wax, and a keen observer, expert in such matters, would have noticed that, despite the manager's assurance to the contrary, they had all been opened and carefully repealed. "I suppose he's living somewhere in Eng- land ? said his lordship, after a long pause. He has reared a large family, no doubt, by -an Arlyn Curse them both They cheated and mocked me, and I want them to suffer. You're a happy man, Grimrod, in having no children. Your child it dead, is it not ? Grimrod changed colour. Yes, my lord," he answered. My child died nearly sixteen years ago. She was only a year old, and did not long survive her poor mother. You may remember that I took the child to Leeds, to a married sister of mine, but no care could prolong her feeble life." Lord Waldemar did jt even hear his manager's reply. He him too any anxieties of his own to bestow a thought upon the child of Griiarod. "I wish my boy had died in hie infancy," he said bitterly. "I should like to know how my curse has worked with him. The thought that he is lying somewhere in obscurity waiting for my death, that he may succeed me as Baron Waldemar, goad, me to frenzy. I think of him with his wife-an Arlyn—and his accursed brood of children, scoffing at my name when I am in my grave I It is the mother who moulds the mind, of her children, and she has taught them to revere the wild Squire Arlyn, a self- murderer, a profligate, a coward, and to regard me with contumely! And these miserable wretches are to inherit my title and such estates at I may not leave to Darrel Moer, a selfish profligate also God in Heaven! I wonder I don't go mad! At any rate, the Arlvn-Floyds will have had a hard probation before they enter upon their fortune. Read me the letters, Grimrod- Let me hear their pleadings. Let qte know how my curse has worked with them." Griiarod glanced at the dates inscribed upon eaoh in an angular handwriting by himself upon their reception, and tore open that which had been first received, and read it aloud slowly and .impressively, Lord Waldemar smiling cynically, •nd regarding the reader with a triumphant gaze. The letter was dated from Brussels, that reeoit of impecunious Englishmen, and was a aathetic appeal to his lordship, then Squire Floyd, far forgivenes. and merey. It had been mitten by Wallace Floyd three months after me expulsion from Floyd Manor, and detailed his frightful poverty and the misery of his young wife in guished t s. It declared that the pair haal ibsisted tleir marriage upon the sfcle of Janet's jewels and trinkets, WI of DO great value, and upon the sale of the young man's watch and personal ornaments. They w**e now, at the date of the letter, almost destitute, and quite hopeless. Young Itoyd implored his father to forgive him for disobedience and teeming ingratitude, and ifeBiored his aid. He entreated his father to åftStr him a bare subsistence out of his great wealth, and said that it was not for himself he 'thus begged, but for hi. patient and gentle young wife, who was fading before his eyes. That was all, exoept the signature. Grimrod folded the yellow missive in aijenoe. The sad words, uttered in the manager'^ solemn and earnest voice, seemed to echo start- liajly through the long, high room. Lord Waldemar laughed hoarsely. MSo she suffered, did she?" he said. "She had no business to entrap my son into a mar- riage, the cunning beggar The curse worked, Grimrod. That begging letter might serve as a j model to the whole guild of begging-letter writers. Read the next letter." The manager, still standing under the chan- jdelier, tore open the second letter, and read that also aloud. It was dated from Trieste, nearly two years Iter than the date of the first letter, and bore :the signature of Janet Floyd. It stated that Wallace Floyd had obtained |a situation as tutor in an Austrian family, and !that in pursuance of his new duties the young pair had come to Trieste, where they had I remained nearly two years. It declared that Wallace Floyd had mourned incessantly his ifather's estrangement from him, and that his [trouble and regrets had undermined his health, cl I so that he had fallen an easy prey to a prevailing fever. He was dead Lord Waldemar bounded from his chair as if galvanized. "Dead! iie shrieked. Jjead d "Dead, my lord," said Grimrod. "He died nearly sixteen years ago." Dead" groaned his lordship, sinking back into his chair. "Oh, my Grod." He turned white as death. For a moment Grimrod thought he was fainting, and sprang towards him, but his lordship waved him back and covered his face with his hands. There was a long and terrible silence. At last Lord Waldemar looked up with haggard eyes and bloodless lips, and said brokenly: "It was so sudden, Grimrod. I-I never thought of him as dead. Why, he was young and vigorous, and had a buoyant, joyous soul, that belongs to those who live long. Dead! Why, he was the very incarnation of health And-and he died of grief! That's what tho letter says, does it not ? He did not act as if he cared so much for me. I loved the boy better than my soul, Grimrod. Dead! He brought his fate on himself. I am not grieving for him, but somehow there comes back to me the remembrance of my brave, noble boy, with his sunny eyes and truthful nature, and it seems as if a spasm rends my heart. It was not in him to disobey me and cheat me of himself. He was misled, and by that Arlyn creature- curse her Dead for sixteen years. O Heaven!" He bowed his head upon the table, and his massive frame shook with suppressed sobs. After a little he looked up, and said, in uneven and tremulous tones: "Read on, Grimrod. What does the woman say ? 11 The manager resumed his reading. Poor Janet Floyd told how her young husband had died in hie poverty and exile, and how his father's name was linked with hers upon his lips in his last utterance. She told where he was buried. She asked nothing for herself, she said, for she knew that Squire Floyd hated her as the cause of his estrangement from his son. She wanted nothing, for she was dying. But she prayed Squire Floyd to forgive both her and her husband in their graves, and not extend his enmity to the child of Wallace Floyd. She said that she was the mother of a little girl, a true Floyd, with not a trace of Arlyn blood in her features or disposition. This child was, at the date of the letter, over a year old, healthy, active and frolicsome. The little one had been named Hilda, after the wife of the Austrian gentleman in whose service Wallace Floyd had been, and the young mother im- plored Squire Floyd to take charge of his granddaughter, and to suffer the child to soothe his declining years. With a mother's fond garrulity, the dying lady described her daughter's baby perfections, as if hoping to enlist the sympathies and interest of the child's grandfather. She begged him to come or send at once for little Hilda, and this paragraph then occurred My baby is a miniature copy of'her father, and will be very beautiful when she grows up. You will feel that she belongs to your race when you see that she has inherited even the peculiar dagger-mark upon the arm which Wallace had when born, and which was vividly plain upon his skin even when dead. There is no other blemish upon her person—if this birth-mark may be called a blemish—save a peculiar scar upon her left arm, the result of a wound inflicted by herself when I had left her alone for a moment, and her father's open knife, unknown to me, lay on the table within her reach. The doctor says she will carry a faint scar in memory of that accident to her grave." There was little more, and Janet Floyd con- cluded with the entreaty to her father-in-law to send for his grandchild without delay, and not to leave her an orphan and a beggar to the charities of some orphan asylum or foundling hospital. "Read the third letter," said Lord Waldemar hoarsely. Grimrod obeyed. The third letter had been written by a fellow- lodger of Mrs. Janet Floyd, and was dated six months later. It announced the death of the young widow by consumption, and her interment at Trieste. The writer stated that he wrote in oompliance with the last wishes of Mrs. Floyd, who begged her husband's father to care for her child. There was a postscript to this letter, which stated that the English nurse of the little Hilda had departed from Trieste, taking the child with her, and no one knew whither she had gone. Thus the letter ended. "Nearly sixteen years!" muttered Lord Waldemar. "They two who sinned against me are dead and buried. The child-where is she ? "Mrs. Floyd says the little Hilda was a true Floyd, said the manager artfully, with not a trace of Arlyn blood in her features or disposition.' The girl must be about seventeen yearu old. No doubt she is itiving somewhere in poverty and obscurity, with her English nurse,' unconscious, perhaps, that she is the heiress of your entailed estates and your title, for the title and estates go to the female line in default of the male." Lord Waldemar did not speak. His-face was hidden by his hands. It would seem odd to have a lady in the house once more," said Grimrod, as if speaking to himself, yet carefully watching the effect of his words upon the Baron. "A young and bonny girl, with the sunny face and sunny temper of Wallace Floyd. It is a shame that the future Baroness of Waldemar should live in poverty and obscurity in a foreign land, and she a true Floyd.' Her parents have atoned for their. fault in death. She i. innocent——" Lord Waldemar made an impatient gesture. "Put up the letters," he said. "God forgive me, but I'm afraid I've been a hard-hearted old sinner. My poor dead boy The girl is his daughter, Grimrod, and is my heiress to the entailed estates. Even if I hated her, I could not run the risk of leaving her there in Germany or Italy, or wherever she is, to marry a peasant, and to make him master of Waldemar after me. She may be already married—she may be-- Great Heaven! Grimrod, you must find the girl. You must go to Trieste and search for her step by step until you find her. You must go at once—to-night! Grimrod put away the letters and account- books, and locked the safe. n "I can start in the morning, my lord—— II You can start to-night. It is eight o clock, and the London train leaves the nearest station at ten. You have plenty of time to be off. Can you not see that I am dying with impatience ? I have confidence in your skill and patience. Leave no stone unturned to find the girl. Use monev freely. Sixteen years! She may be dead. If so, bring me a record of her death. If she be alive, married or single, a very peasant in seemmg, or a lady, bring her to me. Telegraph me at every stage of your investigation. I know I shall hate her, if she lives, for her Arlyn blood, but she is my heiress, and I must have her here. I want to see Che creature who jis to succeed me. Go Knowing well his employer's mood, and that he would not brook hesitat:on or delay, the manager went out, and as he hurried towards his own house to make ready for his hasty journey, he muttered to himself, in a tone of evil triumph "The hour has come—a little earlier than I expected-but it has come! I go, Lord Walde- mar, to bring home your heiress I Your htirtu —ha, hal" (To bt continutd.) —

Advertising

RHONDDA DISTRICT( COUNCIL.

WATER SUPPLY OF THE RHONDDA..

rtgCt°' A Rhondda Sanitary…

The Creat Need of the ^ j

Advertising