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A BROKEN WEDDING RING., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 72, 25 March 1909
A BROKEN WEDDING RING.
CHAPTER Vl.—rContinued! Leah Ray had plenty of spirit — she inherited it from the Hattons; but with all her courage, she dared not tell her father -what -was in her heart- She had been indifferent at first as to -what she had to do; now she hated and loathed it. When, after midnight, her father gave her permission to leave the conclave, she went to Hettie to seek comfort and | consolation. "I can never attempt it, my darling!" ,she sobbed. O, Hettie! what must I do? I I hate it all so. What shall I do? My i father will be so angry when I tell him." I Her sister looked at her in helpless compassion. "It seems almost a pity that you are so .beautiful and so gifted, Leah," said Hettie. Leah stood by the window, her face raised to the sky, where the golden stars were shining. "Do you remember, Hettie," she said, "how the three Hebrews prayed in the fieTy furnace? I am a furnace of fire now I stand between my own hatred of what my father wants mc to do and my father's anger if I do not do it. Who will deliver mc from it? Who will take pity on mc? I am so helpless. I have no friend. O, Hettie, Hettie! I feel 1 must pray to Heaven to save mc fron this furnace of fire!" "My darling Leah, do not cry," return- \ ed Hettie. "If you tell our father that you do not like his plans ithat he has laid I down for you, he will not force you to I i follow them." But Leah had had a revelation of her I father's character that evening which | \ had opened her eyes. She knew that he '■ I would not spare her—.that lie would I force her to comply with his wishes; | • \ and, if she refused, she had a dim idea -1 that he would make her suffer. I "I wish mamma had lived, Hettie," 1 she said; "she would have taken care of I us. She would never hare allowed father jto force mc to do anything against my I will. We should have been like other I girls then, which we are not now." | "Still, Leah, we are the daughters lof a patriot," remarked loyal Hettie; and Leah turned away with a hopeless sickness at her heart. Ko sleep came to her that night. She -hated the men whom she had seen, and who persisted in flattering and praising her. She detested their opinions and political feelings; she loathed the idea of having to meet them again and again. If some one would rescue her! If something would only happen to save her from the terrible future that her father had mapped out for her!" She looked the next morning from the 1 window of her bedroom. There were people hurrying to and fro; the tall chimneys were smoking, showing that 1 work was going on; there was the distant murmur and roar of the city; she sa-w men and women with eager faces, who -were evidently- bent on business. "The people!" And what had she to do with them'! She did not even belong to | them. What, .had she in common wit]: I those tired-Jooking, dirty, poorly-dressed men and women who crowded the streets 1 Nothing. Why then give her life to then oT_?or .them f She -must tell her fathej that all his plans for heT were more thar vain. He would be at home in the after noon; Hettie -would .be present, and thei she could speak to him plainly on tin subject. The afternoon was close, .heavy, and dull. Out of doors the atmosphere was oppressive—iv the house there was warmth without brightness; and Leah Kay, with a dull pain at her heart, stood awaiting her father's return—waiting to tell him that she never could and never would become what he had wished her to be, . "He will fee terribly angry," she said to Hettie; "biA, I had (better die at once than live on in agony, as I should do, Hettie, were I to accede to his plans •While I talk to him, pray that I may be delivered from this furnace of fire." It was late when Martin Bay returned. He was not in the most amiable of moods; something had gone wrong among the delegates, and he was ruffled and angered." "Give mc my dinner," he said, brusquely; and the two girls hastened [to serve Mm. "Mind," he added, half fiercely, to his eldest daughter—"mind that you study well to-day. I must give you a lesson this evening; last night you did not seem so walling as I should like to have seen you. Understand that there is to be no shirking; you must do what I wish." "Leah," said' Hettie, trembling, " do not speak to him to-night—he is angry, you see; wait until to-morrow." "■No; I could not rest another hour," her sister replied. She might not be a modern Judith, but she was Tesolute, firm and determined. "The Voice of the People" had dined well; he had taken up the only consolation that never failed him—his newspaper; and Leah, looking paler and more determined than she had ever looked before, went up to him. At that very moment a carriage rolled up the street and stopped at their door; then came a loud peal at the bell, which the little drudge of the house, with a very black face and hands, hastened to answer. They heard a loud, peremptory voice, asking if Martin. Ray was at home, and the girl's answer, "Yes." "Give him this," said the same voice, ' "and tell him that I am waiting—waiting, you understand." " Who can this be ?" observed Martin with a wondering look at his daughters. The little maid solved the mystery by appearing with a card. " He says he's waiting," she half whisI Dered, with a nod of her head towards the door. •Martin Ray took up the card and read: "General Sir Arthur Hatton, X.C.8." " Sir Arthur Hatton ? " he murmured. "I know no such name. Hatton?" Then memory suddenly awakened. Was not Doris Hatton the name of the only woman he had ever loved, and who bad died because he was not what she believed him to be? Sir Arthur Hatton? It must be some relative of hers, and of tho proud father who had died without forgiving his only daughter for marrying him. Then he remembered that his wife had spoken more than once of a soldier-brother away in Indi— "Ask the gentleman to walk in," he said to the
(By BERTHA M. CLAY)
servant; and the next minute General Sir Arthur Hatton was ushered in. At sight of the two beautiful faces le uncovered his head and bowed low. " Are you Martin Ray, demagogue and igitator ?" he asked. ' ■"'-•■ "I am Martin Bay," replied the masber of the house. " I am General Hatton, the brother of the unfortunate lady whom you stole Lrorn her home." " What is your business with mc ?" asked Martin Ray. ."I want the satisfaction, first of all, of speaking my mind to you; and, secondly, I wish to know what has be 1 -1 come of my sister's children." ' Hatred flamed in both faces as; the two men looked at each other; hatred flashed from their eyeSi ' "I i.:\\e not asked you to my house," said Martin Bay; "nor do I wish to see you here. State your business quickly, and begone." CHAPTER VII. It was an impressive scene. The fine, tall figure of the officer was drawn to its full height, his face was expressive of intense scorn. Martin Ray "seemed to shrink into insignificance before him, and yet he faced him with a desperate kind of courage. The two girls had drawn close together, as though seeking protection from each otlfir. The ivan sunlight lay in yellow bars along the floor. "I have not come hither/ said General Hatton, " to bandy words with you —to seek a quarrel with you. You ere one with whom no gentleman could quarrel. ■ I have a message from the dead, and I wish to deliver it. Show mc my sister's jdiildren." " They are here," said Martin Bay, not without a certain amount of dignity —" the good children of a good mother." General Hatton waved his hand with a gesture of scorn. ISO word about his dead sister could he tolerate from the lips ot the man whom he thought utterly vile and base. He went to the girls, who stood, witt fear on their faces, hand in hand. The composed, well-bred manner, the low bow, and the courteous bearing wert something novel to them. Ho lookeo into each sweet shrinking face. I "My sister's children," Be said, "have I you any word of welcome for mc? 11 bring a message from your mother." I Leah freed her hand from, her sister's 1 clasp and held it out to him. He drew her to him and kissed the pale young I face. She found that be was trembling with agitation and emotion. Then he took Hettie in JTis arms and kissed I her also. I '• I was quite a young man," he said.! •when I left-home, and your mother wa." J nuch younger, than I. She was my beloved sister, and treasure. It was i great grief to mc to be obliged to parti ;rom her when I went abroad. I re-1 member her face, and in yours I see some trace, of it. What -word of welcome. iave you for mc?" Impulsive Leah threw her arms around him and raised her face to his. " Welcome home, uncle," she said. " What is your name, dear child 1 " he asked. "Leah," she replied. " Leah 1 It is a beautiful, sorrowful name. Why did your mother give it to you? Did she foresee a shadow in your life ? You took like Leah; no other name would suit you. And your age ? " " I shall soon be seventeen," she replied with unconscious pride in her voice. " And you ? " he continued, turning to the younger sister. I " I am Hettie," she said, " and I am learly sixteen." , ' Heaven 'bless you, my dear ! You I aave a sweet face of your own. Your mother bade me—'here is the letiter—you •an read it—she bade mc, when I returned home, seek you, find you, and save you." "Save us!" cried Leah. "From what ? " •' She must have known what she was writing," replied the general. " She was sweet - tempered, and never complained, but she died young, and of no complaint to which men could give a name. She was not happy, and she asked mc to save you." Martin Kay stepped forward. " I will not allow you to speak in that :ashion," he said. " Their mother loved no, and they love mc; you will never set my children against mc." "I have no wish to do so," said the general coldly. " Knowing your true haractea - , as I suspecst my sister knew it before her death, I can imagine you to be quite unfit to have the charge of young girls ; therefore 1 bring their mother's message to them, and they can make their choice. "Why am I unfit?" cried Martin Ray, his face white with rage; "in what way?" "I judge you from your public character. You- are without honour, honesty" and loyalty. You are the verj ringleader of sedition; treason is a natural atmosphere to you. You live or the hard earnings of the people whoa you mislead. You spread disaffection, rebellion, ruin, misery, and death wher ever you go." A low cry came from Leah's lips. It seemed to her that these words of her uncle's gave life to a horrible spectre that had always haunted her. "If," continued the soldier, "you were honest, I should have some respect for you. But you are an impostor. You, and such as you, live on the hard-earned pence of the men you deceive. If you gave to the people, instead of taking from them, one might have some little faith in you." "I have given my life to the cause I have at heart," rejoined Martin Ray. "The cause of anarchy and rebellion— the cause of revolution, which you would spread like a firebrand all over the land. How many men's lives have you to answer for, Martin Ray? You have kept yourself safe; but how many men have you slain, by your teaching? You have found men vain and weak, ready to listen to anything which appeared to lighten their burdens; and what have you taught? Did you ever teach a man to be patient, to rest content with the condition in which Heaven had placed him. to work soberly, honestly, and justl"? No. You taught him to long for Irs neighbour's property, to rebel against rightful authority, to look with envious eyes on all those above him, to brood in sullen anger until murder ran riot in his heart. Those are your- doctrines." "Whatever they are, I believe in them," said Martin Ray. "Many young men owe their ruin and death to you," continued the-, general "You lave urged them to-rebel; you haye eeen them suffer loss,, seen them i condemned to prison, to e_le; .yet y_ou
have never paused, nor taken pity, nor spared." "I have done my duty," declared Martin Eay. "You are not a fit person to have charge of girls like these. You would sell them heart and soul to further your cause," and Leah shrunk at the words, a sudden pain piercing her heart. "You value their youth, their fresh, sweet grace and beauty, only so far as they will help you and lure men to ..your belief whom you cannot teach yourself. I declare to Heaven," he continued, passionately, "that I am relieved and grateful to find them as they I are! I should not have been surprised had I discovered that you had, even young as they are, tried to make platform orators of them," The random shot went home to the very heart of Martin Kay, and blanched Leah's face with a great fear. This was indeed the furnace of fire from which she had longed to be free. (To be continued daily.)
A BROKEN WEDDING RING., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 72, 25 March 1909
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