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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] MALMORA: A STORY OF THE ISLE OF MAN. BY AUGUSTA SQUIRES, Author of "Saved by Death," "An Eviction and its Consequences &c. &c. CHAPTER XXV. DRIVEN FORTH. 'WlTH every pulse beating, every nerve "tense, throbbing with emotion, Elfin sought Sfche music room, sat down to the organ, and an to play, to improvise. The music was fTOild, melancholy, sad. Ever and anon it penetrated to the chamber where Malmora 'was listening with suspended breath to the story that Linda related. And still the music went on, fitful, stormy, pathetic; ■permeated with a depth of tragic passion, as the cadence slowing softly drew to its close. Elfin received a summons to Malmora's presence. She pressed her fingers once more upon the keys. One Long note, like the last despairing cry of a lost soul, pierced the air—then a blank silence. She put down the lid with a lingering touch, as though her hands were loth to leave it. She crossed the floor slowly, paused when she reached the door and looked around the room, bidding it a mute farewell. Then she went forth to receive her sen- tence. Elfin stood clad in a white robe, with bent head and pathetic face, before the implac- able woman who sat in the carved oak chair in rigid state. "So you have acted a false part towards me ever since you first came to Balla," said Malmora, with stern anger. The girl did not speak. She dared not look up and encounter the glance which she felt was resting upon her. "You have professed ignorance of your parentage. You knew you were the grand- child of-thai woman." Mahnora half rose, and then sat down again, grasping the carved arms of the chair on either side. "And you, whom I have treated as an equal, are the daughter of an ex-convict! Her tone expressed infinite scorn and Contempt. "Knowing this, you have accepted my favours.' The girl raised her head slightly. I- Do not speak cried Malmora, in a voice from which she could not keep a ringing note of fierceness. You would lie to me in speech, as you have lied to me by your silence through all these years." She stepped down from her seat, which was placed on a dais near the window. Her tall form seemed to grow taller, as she stood with head erect, the dark 'robe falling in straight lines from the spray of polished Jet which glittered on her shoulder to the tiger-skin rug spread beneath her feet. "When you came here, an apparently friendless child, some pity stirred within me. Had I known who you were, I would have driven you forth to seek again the place from whence you came, or to perish of cold and hunger." Elfin's clasped hands tightened over her beating heart. Malmora observed the gesture with a sense of irritation. She had coni t-iiaiided Elfin to J Skeep silence; but now it was an offence to her that the denounced did not attempt to justify herself. As she looked upon the defenceless girl standing in an attitude of submissive but dignified sorrow, there came to her mind the words As a sheep 'before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." A momentary uneasiness possessd her, a faint misgiving as to the justice of the pitiless sentence she was about to put into execution. What if she, too, like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, were to pass judgment upon the innocent ? She walked a few paces and came back again. Why did you deceive me ?" I did not know." The words were low and faint. "Not know that those wretched people had a claim upon you ? Elfin shook her head. "I do not believe you! You come of a degraded race. Their blood is in your Veins their evil in your heart!" Malmora was lashing herself to anger again. I did not know that I had a "—a slight shiver passed through Elfin s frame— "father"—the word came with a gasp- until to-day." It is not to be expected that you will confess to the deception which you have practised for so long. So consummate an actress will sustain her role of injured inno- cence to the last." Elfin's mental attitude of numbed passivity -changed to that of indignant protest against the injustice under which she suffered. She raised her head and looked unflinch- ingly into the face of her accuser. "I have told you the truth." Her voice, with its soft silvery tone, rang ,out clear. Then a sudden passion assailed "her; her cheeks gained colour, her eyes light; her form seemed to expand, and put on an air of self-contained dignity. "You say you took me from the streets who asked you to do so ? Not I. One of jyour lowest menials was the first to give me {food and shelter, and your blood-hound accorded me protection. Sir Magnus pleaded May cause, and you gave a reluctant consent lor me to stay. It was not until you dis- covered my talent for music that you deigned to notice me, then it was the talent which interested you, not myself. You have devoted your time to—my talent; you have expended your wealth on the cultivation of— my talent; but of myself,a feeling, suffering, human being, you have thought little. I Was no more to you than a skilfully built instrument which could be played upon." This apparently simple and unreflective child, had niercecl to the secret chamber of Malmora's heart, and held up to her view the image of that self which she had never dared to look upon. Elfin continued: "You speak of benefits conferred. Did you do all this with the object of caripg for a homeless and neglected child? No. You simply sought the gratifica- tion of your own desires." This was another sharp-edged truth that stabbed. Still she went on; but now her voice changed to a sad low key her eyes grew dewy soft, and her mouth became tremu- lous. You treated me as though I had only rnind and intellect. You forgot that I had heart. There were times when I would gladly have relinquished all which I possess- ed, even my great gift-which is my life- if, one little token of affection from you, J/01,1 W1theld it. I have never known a Wvf »?♦ Jove' and you had buried your heart with yOUr child Her voice broke into a sob. Malmora turned her head aside. A latent S *red ,Wl,fchin her; but Elfin's next words reversed the current of her feel- ings. Not until I heard Sir Magnus sDeak of Molly Malone in Glen Helen, d?d I know that she and old Mother Jones, my grandmother were one and the same." Malmora turned upon the girl with sudden fury. How dare you mention that hated name in my presence ? You are a descendant of the accursed mother, and accursed son. Go 'to your own folk!" Elfin fell upon her knees and held up sup- plicating hands. "I would sooner throw myself from the top of Brada Head into the sea! she cried, passionately. "Let me be your servant, your slave, but do not deliver me over to those cruel people "Don't look at me like that!" said Mal. mora, sharply. Once, when Frida was ill, suffering, nigh unto death, there was a look on her face like the one that is on yours now." "May it not be Frida's spirit pleading through me for your compassion ? ,Compassion I Had your father compas- sion, when he stabbed my husband in the dark, the coward ? Compassion! Had she, that fiend, who always hated me, I know not why, when she took the life of my inno- cent child?" But they cannot be my relatives it is impossible, unnatural! There must be some terrible mistake." "There is no mistake," said Malmora. coldly, looking down into the quivering up- turned face. You have that woman's eyes. The expression is different, but the colour is the same. Oh, why did not the resemblance strike me before ? I may be like her in outward form, but I am not in mind, not in spirit, not in heart. Oh forget that I belong to them. Take me back again." "Forget! I qan never forget—nor for- give. Elfin uttered a despairing cry and fell for- ward. She lay with long white arms exten- ded her dark hair swept the mat at Malmora's feet. I can never forgive," she repeated, stand- ng over the prostrate girl. You say I have never loved you, that is true. But now I hate you. Hate you so intensely that the sight of you is loathsome to me." Elfin's fingers worked convulsively. Leave me, now, instantly and may I never look upon your face again." The suppliant raised herself slowly, and tossed aside the ruffled locks with a weak, nerveless hand. She walked half-way across the room, hesitated, threw a long look back over her shoulder, but the sphynx-like face maintained its calm, and herpleading glance met the steely glitter of eyes that cursed. With faltering steps, and hands held out gropingly, like one who cannot see the way he is going, she passed with drooping head, through the open doorway, and out of sight. CHAPTER XXVI. I LOST AT SEA. I ELFIN sat in a small white boat—the Balla Mount—which rode at anchor on the heav- ing waves. She had entered the little skiff when it lay high on the beach, and burying her face in her hands, had remained un- conscious that the inflowing tide had floated the boat, and that a wide space of water stretched between her and the shore. She was driven from beneath the roof which had afforded her friendly shelter for many years. Whither should she flee? She dare not stay on the island, those people—her kinsfolk—would claim her. She would go to England but how was she to get there without funds ? All the money she possessed had been in the purse which she had thrown at "that man's" feet. What should she do ? To whom could she apply ? Clare had gone to Ireland to pay a long deferred visit to a distant relative, and Herr Shielmann had returned to his native land. At length she thought of Joalf, he might help her. One night, some time ago, she had stolen into the stable, and had dis- covered the old man seated on a truss of straw; the lantern, which was placed upon the floor, described a faint circle of light. He was thrusting his right hand up and down the leg of a blue worsted stocking, and jingling some coins which it contained, as though their metallic ring made sweet music in his ears. Elfin determined to wait until darkness fell, then she would go to Joalf, perhaps he might be induced to lend her a small portion of his hoarded wealth. And Orry, would he think of her when she was gone ? Would he grow pitiful and for- give? forgive her for being "that man's" child ? She raised her head wearily and looked around. A broad expanse of sea still flowed between her and the strand. But the tide had reached high water mark and turned. There was a heavy swell, and a strong undercurrent setting seaward. A cloaked figure issued from a cave beneath the cliffs, crossed the narrow strip of shingle, and entered the sea. The surf flowed around her feet, crept to her knees, encircled her waist; still she advanced slowly, deliberately. She stood in the water up to her chin near the prow of the boat. She raised her hand, it clasped a long, glittering knife. Elfin could not move she gazed in fascinated terror at the shining blade suspended above her head; for a moment it wavered, then darted aside, and descended upon the rope which at the upper end was attached to the gunwale, and at Lhe lower to the shank of a heavy anchor em- bedded in the sand. Molly sawed at the slender cable until it parted in two. The boat gave a plunge, mounted the next steep rushing breaker, then rode slowly out to sea. Having accomplished her work, she waded to the shore, and stood in her dripping gar- ments and dishevelled hair streaming in the wind, watching the little vessel recede further and further from the land. At length it was lost to sight. She climbed to the top of the cliff, shaded her eyes with her hand, and scanned the stormy sea. The white boat rode over the dark waters, and a white-robed form stood up in it, out- lined against a deep purple cloud which had assumed the likeness of a cross. A sunbeam, raying downwards from a rift in the vapourous mass above, illumined the distant figure; it became transformed, etherialised, a spirit of light. The sunlight faded, the clouds rolled together, and all was dark. y? "X* -a. The gong sounded in the hall. At the same minute the footman appeared at the drawing-room door. If you please, Miss Elfin is out." He waited, as though expecting to receive a command for some one to be despatched immediately in search of the absentee. But Malmora turned to her companion, and said quietly Linda, are you ready ? And she led the way to the dining- room. The dinner proceeded in an unbroken silence. Malmora's eyes wandered again and again to the vacant chair which stood on her [right hand. The atmosphere grew oppressive, the light faded; suddenly the room was filled with blue flame; the thunder crashed overhead and shook the house to its foundations the rain lashed the window panes, and the wind sobbed and moaned. The women looked into each other's scared faces, and from Malmora's lips involuntarily dropped the question "Where is she ?" And her heart cried, "Where? Where?" Was she out in the pitiless storm, a wan- derer, seeking shelter and finding none ? Might she not perish of cold and hunger ? Malmora pushed her plate away she felt that food would choke her. Later in the evening she sought her own room, drew aside the curtain, and pressed her face against the window pane. The darkness without was as impenetrable as a wall. The storm still raged. As she stood facing the murky gloom, listening to the roll of the thunder, there came to her mind Cordelia's passionately pathetic exclama- tion „T, Mine enemy's dog, l nough he had bit me, should have stood that night Against my fire The velvet folds escaped from her relaxed fingers, and fell together, shutting out the night. Emilie appeared at the door with a look of concern, and exclaimed in a distressed tone: Madame, Mademoiselle Elfin not come home. Shall some one go and look for her ? There was silence for the space of half a minute, then Malmora said slowly: "No. It is late. You can go to bed." She remained in the same attitude for some time after the girl had left. At length she approached the dressing-table, raised one of the tall lighted lamps, paused irreso- lutely, then put it down again, and paced the chamber with lagging steps. The reverber- I ation of a thunder peal shook the walls and trembled along the floor. She again lifted the lamp, walked forward slowly, then half turned, as though arrested by some detain- ing thought; she wavered for a moment, made a slight impatient movement, and threw open the door. She passed along the corridor and ascended a steep winding stair which led to the top of a high tower. Here she stopped to take breath, then advanced I and put the lamp on a small centre table. Its rays illumined the circular chamber with its walls and roof of glass. Was the light, which so placed could be seen from afar, intended to act as a beacon to one who might have lost her way in the storm ? There was another inmate of Balla, Mount who did not sleep that night. Linda dismissed her maid, and threw back the casement, regardless of the driving rain, and strained her eyes through the dark to a distant point, where a momentary gleam of moonlight showed pale on the white crested breakers of the troubled sea. She closed the window with a shiver, threw herself on the couch, and buried her head in the cushions. When Elfin was cast adrift on the sea, Linda was amusing herself in the Camera Obscura, looking upon the reflection of sur- rounding scenes presented in succession to her view. She had observed Elfin cross the beach and enter the skiff, near which the tide was slowly creeping, and after a consid- erable interval had descried the tall form of Molly Malone wading through the surf. She had caught a glimpse of the long- knife in the old woman's uplifted hand she had seen her sever the rope, and watched the boat drift over the cloud-shadowed waters until it faded from sight. Linda's first feeling was one of satisfaction that so dangerous a rival had been removed from her path. She reasoned that no great harm could befall her, for the boat would eventually be picked up by some pass- ing vessel or fishing-smack, and Elfin, fear- ing to return to the Island, would undoubt- edly make her way to some other country. But when the storm came on, as the night advanced, Linda was assailed by an un- speakable dread which struck a chill to her heart. The Balla Mount, being lightly built, and only intended for use on smooth waters, could not live in a surging sea. Elfin would perish, and Linda knew that she would for ever have the uneasy consciousness that her I fatal silence had prevented any attempt being made to go to the young girl's rescue. (To be continued.)






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