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-======- -¡- -= [AIL RIGHTS RESERVED.) MALMORA: STORY OF THE ISLE OF MAN. BY AUGUSTA SQUIRES, Author oj "Saved by Death." An Eviction and its Consequences," &c. dec. CHAPTER XXIX. THE DEATH SCENE.—THE CONFESSION. JEHE fore part of the cavern formed a kind d vaulted chamber. A tallow candle threw its feeble rays upon the gaunt form ex- tended on the straw. Fierce passions were etill warring in the troubled soul, and cast a ghastly light on the pinched face, over Which was stealing the great shadow of ap- proaching death. Malmora sat on a stool near the improvised couch, bending forward with eager intentness. Every word which fell from the slowly-stiffening lips was like the infliction of a wound. The priest, clad in a coarse garment, stood on the other side, holding a crucifix before the eyes of the dying woman. In the background, with purple heather for a shroud, from which the cold face gleamed white as a marble mask, reposed the form of the dead, with the cross at its feet, and the wax lights making tiny radiant circles amidst the surrounding gloom. "Me hate t' ye, sure an' it war past the tellin' cried Molly, her dim eyes suddenly flashing fire. Why did you dislike us ? asked Mal- mora. Becos rich ye were, an' honoured, poor we were, an' despised, me an' my son. An' the blood av princes is it not runnin' in our veins ? "Surely that was unjust," said Mal- mora. Molly remained silent. Now that the final moment had arrived she still delayed. "Must I confess?" she asked, addressing the priest. If you wish to save your soul." She raised herself on one elbow, and peered into that other face which was bent towards her own. Yer husband, i' faith it war me that shot him!" The words broke from her suddenly, savagely, then her chin fell upon her breast. A quick cry of pain issued from Malmora's lips. Me it war as did the deed," continued Molly. Sure an' didn't he spake agen me son at the trial? An', by the saints, I swore as I'd ha' me revenge on him an' hisn." She put the white hair from her face with an impatient hand. The memories of the past were fanning into flame the waning spark of life within her. Th' way he would hev t' goo I knew A- short cut across the country I took. At the old tholthan I war afore him. Meself I hid behind th' fuchsia hedge. Sure the shot was aimed thrue that found his heart! There was something wild and fierce in the old woman's aspect, as she raised herself, .stretched forth her right arm, and made a gesture, as though her curved finger were placed on the trigger of a gun. Through Malmora's mind there flashed the recollection of that sound-the report of fire- arms—which she had heard so distinctly in her dream-trance at the moment of her hus- band's death. Molly fell back upon the straw a white- ness succeeded the transient flush which had tinged her cheek. She appeared to be pas- sing into a kind of lethargy, but Malmora's next words reached her consciousness. And Frida-niy little daughter-did you take her life also ? Molly made a strong effort to master the deadly faintness which nearly overpowered her. The priest held a stimulant to her lips, which she imbibed eagerly. "A black deed war that, the innocent babe, the purty little one! When hom' I com'- yer husband shot—my grandchild war in convulsions an' died a few minutes after in my arms. Oh me heart i wild it war wi' luv an' hate. I swore as yer child's life should pay for mine. Into the nursery I stole at night. Oh! for me will there ever be for- giveness? The sweet eyes at her! Sure an' her pleading glance has been loike poisoned arrows i' me heart." She put her shaking hand to her forehead and brushed away the clinging drops of agony. Ma morasatwith fingers stiffly intertwined, incapable of speech. A slight movement on the pant of Father O'Lara, as he supported Molly's drooping head on his shoulder, aroused her at last. "You say, that soon after you returned home your grandchild died, but is not Elfin your grandchild ? Molly opened her eyes. Kith nor kin is she av mine." Who is she then? Sure an' she is one av yer own family." "Oh woman! woman! do not play with me! Do not tell me falsehoods in this the last hour of your life." Yer sister's child she be." "Sybil's? Her name I don't remember it is foreign. But truth it ba I spake, as though before God's throne I stood. There was a silence, in which the short panting breath of the dying woman was as the heavy flap of a beating wing set to mark the passing moments of a departing soul. Malmora perceived that the time was very short in which to solve the mystery of Elfin's birth. She suppressed all emotion, and concentrated her keen and penetrating intellect upon the task before her. Have you any proofs which will confirm your statement? "F theer. Papers, jewels. Sell 'em I couldn't, though, at times, I clemmed." Molly pointed to a large leather case with silver clasps that lay on the straw at her feet. Then she disengaged a small key from a chain suspended from her neck, of which Malmora, at her request, took possession. Molly continued, speaking in quick, jerky gasps. T'Liverpool I went. Found it hard times fto get a living. Went to lodging- house to help th' sarvant do th' work. One day lady and baby come. Lady Sl. write a letter. Sarvant gie it t me to post. Addressed war it t ye. I read th' letter, find lady is ye,r sister. Says 1, Mrs. Maclear ull tek th child, an' she'll ba t' her as th' daughter she has lost. I hated ye an' I thought t' clear oot yer family root an' branch. So I burnt the letter. Th' next day th' lady died. Th' house war *ept by a widow; she took the fever and died. The box I stole. The child I took away, just ter ba oot av th-"f-ell sickness so I told'em. In the ways av^ evil I thought t' bring her up; whm all daftled an' black ter send ner ter ye. "h • •_ But he me son, kiiowed j 5i? ijI v own born child he thought her." Molly relapsed into semi-unconsciousness, i. which state she remained for several minutes; then suddenly she raised herself into a sitting posture, and extended her right arm and forefinger. Her eyes became trans- fixed, as though she were gazing upon a: "vision. 1 "Ah! Ah t The rope, is: it cut f The boat on the waters rides away • v away away 1 T' Christ's Cross i' the clouds is she nailed. Martyred! Martyred 1 See, aligel is, She, now risin'up t' heaven!" 'There was again silence. Maimora did not ctir. The priest kept his vigilant watch; the dead form lay on its 1 couch of heather-bloom, like a voiceless witness from another world. Over Molly's face there stole an expression of cunning, succeeded by a look of malicious satisfaction. It was the last supreme struggle of the lower sense nature over the higher. "Elfin, buried is she beneath the dark, dark sea. The last av yer race! The last av yer race To me the revenge!" Her head fell back upon the straw. The quavering voice was silent for ever. I CHAPTER XXX. I OUT ON THE OCEAN ALONE. I OUT on the ocean alone, where the broad waters stretched into infinite space, where the encircling sky stooped down as though to enclose the world of tossing waves benaath —a world in which there was nothing solid, nothing fixed, where form was ever changing, and colour flushed and paled and melted into varying hues. Elfin sat in the tossing boat confronted by a lingering and cruel death. She looked around in vain for succour; not a sail was in sight. The young life throbbed strongly in her veins, and rose in rebellious protest against the pitiless fate which had decreed its early extinction. The minutes were as ages, the hours as an eternity. The red sun glided down the arc of heaven and sank into the sea. The grey mists of twilight gathered, purple shadows crept across the foam the stars came out, and all around grew the terror of the dark. She clasped her hands, and strained her eyes into the vast immensity. A great awe fell upon her, a vague fear, a sense of an overshadowing and all-embracing Presence she seemed to be face to face with God. Denser grew the night, and wilder raged the sea. Flashes of light crossed the dark, and sounds, like the faint far-off voice of a great multitude, echoed and re-echoed in the clouds. Strange forms emerged from the deep, and melted again into shadow; full was the air of spirit-life, voiceless, and im- palpable. The mystery of the Unknown was above and around her. She grew faint and afraid. She fell prostrate on the bottom of the boat, and covered her eyes with her hands; then the darkness of the sky and the blackness of the sea met together, and enclosed her as in a living tomb. I think she will recover." Elfin opened her eyes, and found herself lying on a velvet couch in a small cabin, with her head and shoulders supported by pillows, and a rich Oriental rug thrown across her feet. Bending over her was a tall lady, whose brown hair, draped with a piece of costly lace, was thinly streaked with grey. She met Elfin's gaze with that smile of chastened beauty which is seen only on the face of those whose lives are truly spiritual, or who are endowed with some great intel- lectual gift. Elfin experienced a sense of rest, as though a great protecting love were enfolding her. "We will not trouble you to talk at pre- sent, my dear," the voice was sympathetic and persuasive. "You were found early this morning in a little boat, and were rescued by some of the crew. You are quite safe now, and with those to whom it will give the greatest pleasure to render you every kind- ness and attention." Thank you," murmured Elfin feebly. She closed her eyes, and endeavoured to recall all that had transpired. She reviewed the events of the few preceding days, and wondered vaguely what further trials the future had in store. She roused herself at length. The lady whose face had appealed so strong- ly toher sympathy when she first woke to con- sciousness, was seated beneath the port-hole with a piece of delicate embroidery in her hand. Perceiving that Ellin was awake, she laid her work aside, and approached the couch. Are you feeling better, dear?" Yes, thank you." "Now we hope you will soon be quite strong again. Doubtless you wonder where you are. You are on Lord Spendlow's sailing yacht, the Nautilus. His lordship has kindly put the vessel at my disposal for a short time. We shall be n earing a port on the Irish coast presently. If you will furnish me with your name and address, we shall endeavour to send a communication to your friends informing them of your safety." "I have no friends," responded the girl, and the tears flowed slowly down her cheeks." The lady looked at the beautiful face shadowed by grief. Could it be that one so young had already known sorrow ? She had been steeped in it herself, to the lips. Married at an early age to the man of her choice, three children had been given to her. In the midst of her happiness a fatal disease entered her home, and within the space of a few weeks, she was bereft of husband and offspring, and lay herself at the point; of death. But her faith in God's goodness and mercy never wavered. Upon her restoration to health, she consecrated her life to suffer- ing humanity. Many were the homes which had been brightened by her presence; many a weary and despairing one had taken up her burden again with renewed hope, strengthened by her wise counsel, and sus- tained by contact with her brave and noble nature. Unlike Malmora, who had permitted her heart to grow hard under the pressure of a great affliction, this one wore her sorrow as a crown-a crown which gathered light. She possessed the rare gift of magnetic sym- pathy, the power to put herself into another's place and comprehend his difficulties. Few could resist her charm. The gentle out- flow of her spirit seemed to meet and absorb theirs, and draw from them the hidden secret of their hearts. Elfin fell under this irresistible spell. Within a few hours of their first meeting, she had related to her new acquaintance the sad and eventful history of her life. "And where were you living?" enquired the lady. Elfin had carefully refrained from mention- ing the names of persons or places. She hesitated. "You must give me your full confidence, my dear, if I am to help you." "I resided at Balla Mount in the Isle of Man." I divined so. And the name of the lady, who for a time was your benefactress, is Malmora MacLear." You know her?" cried Elfin, in sur- prise. "We were very dear friends in our girl- hood. It appears incredible that Malmora, who was always high-spirited, but warm- hearted and strictly just, can have changed so greatly as to be capable of acting towards you with such unwonted severity." The lady looked out of the port-hole, where the grey waters were scudding past. The narrative had moved her deeply. She felt great compassion for the child, who, from her birth, had been the sport of circum- stances. A portion of your story is not new to me," she said, quietly. Orry told me, many years ago, of his meeting with you on the steamer, and of your being left on the Isle of Man in Mrs. MacLear's charge." Orry exclaimed Elfin, in some confu- sion. "My name is Elizabeth Farrant. Orry Langman is my nephew." Oh are you his aunt Elizabeth ?" asked Elfin, eagerly. "He has often spoken to me of your goodness, and wished that I could know you. But he will never love me now." 1 Her lips quivered and her eyes filled with tears. j Mrs. Farrant regarded Elfin with, new interest. "You have seen my nephew recently ? "He has been staying at Balla Mount. We had our last interview the other evening. We were-" She lowered her eyes with a shy, but troubled expression. "Yes, dear," said Mrs. Farrant encourag- ingly. I We were betrothed. But he will cast me off, he will hate me as she does because I belong to those wicked people, and you, too, will shrink from me now you know who I am." Her throat worked convulsively. She buried her head in the cushions and sought to stifle her sobs. A warm cheek was pressed against her own. "My dear, dear, child; the character of your 'ndred will not affect my regard for you. It is a cruel injustice which causes one innocent member of a family to sniffer for the misdeeds of another. Before God each indi- vidual stands alone. You have i/rept into my lonely heart, Elfin; you shall be my child and I will be your mother. I will endeavour, in some measure, to repair the wrong which Mrs. MacLear has done for, by the benefits she has conferred upon you, accustoming you to a life of ease, she has taken upon her- self a moral obligation that cannot be dis- regarded, without violating some of the unwritten laws which regulate human conduct." "I do not quite understand all that you have said but will you be so good as to make me a promise, Mrs. Farrant ? What is it, dear ? "Will you keep the fact of my rescue a secret ? I am already dead to all those who have displayed any interest in me. That dreadful woman who cast me adrift might persecute me, if she knew I were living. She will think I have perished in the sea, and the others will be quite indifferent to my fate." Her voice broke. She hid her face on her friend's breast. I think what you suggest is best," rejoined Mrs. Farrant, after a few minutes reflection. We will cruise about until you are stronger, then we can make our plans for the future." They took up their abode in Paris for the winter. One day, Mrs. Farrant returned home from her drive earlier than usual, and found Elfin seated at the piano singing. She entered the room unobserved. When the young girl had finished, she came forward and proffered her services to Mrs. Farrant to unfasten the difficult clasp of her cloak. You have an exceptipnally fine voice, dear why haven't I heard it before ? Because I could not sing—it made me think of her. But. to-day, the longing came over me it was stronger than myself I had no power to resist." The lady straightened the fingers of her gloves with a thoughtful air. "Have you ever had any ambition to appear before the public ? "Since I have been here it has occurred to me that, perhaps, I might be able to earn my living in that way." Well, we will see. It certainly would be a great advantage to you to be placed in a position of independence. I must admit that I the life of a professional singer is beset with many dangers. You are beautiful, my child. I do not intend to flatter you-beauty, like every other gift, is bestowed by God. It should be held in reverence, and not become to its possessor a cause of pride and vanity. As regards your voice, we will consult Signor Sarti. The stage, is, of course, out of the question, but there remains the concert platform. All exceptional abilities, in a sense, are not our own to reserve exclusively to ourselves; they should be exercised to promote the good, or pleasure, of others." This was a new creed to Elfin. She pon- dered over it long and thoughtfully. Then she looked up into Mrs. Farrant's face with a self-depreciating expression. "I am like a little child I should scarcely know right from wrong without your guidance." "May you ever remain a child in relation to some things, my sweet Elfin." Mrs. Farrant registered a silent vow, that she would watch over and protect the young life which in so mysterious a way had been delivered into her keeping. (To be continued.)



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