Imatges de pÓgina

forgive me, if you can,” rushed out of the house, and through the garden, like a madman.

We saw nothing of him that day. When he came home he said he was tired, and went straight up to his room. The next day he made his adieus at the Castle, foiling all Lady Adeliza's hopes, and, in a pelting storm, bade us good-by, and steamed away down Loch Fine. The next thing I heard of him were a few lines to say that he was starting in the Aphrodite, and had not determined the route. Poor old fellow! his pride would not let him marry the girl; his feeling of honour prevented him returning Duncairn's hospitality by running away with his niece. He thought that in conquering himself, and leaving her, he was doing what was kindest and best for her. I doubt if to poor little Lilla the kindness was quite so apparent.



CLAUDE was not, meanwhile, much better off. He, the dashing Dragoon, who had lost his heart and found it again a thousand times in water parties and archery fêtes, in Woolwich luncheons, Chatham balls, Exeter deux temps, and Portsmouth galops, had fallen headlong in love during the long days and evenings at Somerleyton ; and Constance's manner, sometimes distant or sarcastic to him, sometimes, when she thougıt he did not see her, silent and subdued; the constant sight of her beauty, and the attention the other men paid her, were not altogether calculated to cure him. I thought he might have been happier if he had sought an explanation ; but nothing would induce him ; he was too proud to risk a repulse. I thought I might as well act his Deus ex machina.

“I think you're very mistaken in not giving Constance some chance of an explanation,” said I to him, as we went up to the Castle the evening before he left. “ If the girl does like you, and there has been any misconception, so haughty and all but rude as you are to her, she must think you don't care any more for her than you do for this mare.'

“ She knows better than that,” said Claude, biting the end off his cigar fiercely. “How can I speak ? If I were a rich man I would let my pride go hang, and speak to her at once; but what would she and everybody think ?—that I was hunting her for her money, and pretending love, that I might build up the broken fortunes of my family with the wealth she would bring me.

Were she penniless and I a Duke, I would risk her rejection to-morrow; as it is

He stopped, and blew a cloud of smoke into the frosty air.

“Oh the contradictions of human nature !” thought I. “Dyneley and his love are in the very relative position that Claude thinks would make it all square for him; and yet they are not one whit better off than these two."

At dinner, Claude had the length of the table between him and Constance, so there did not seem much prospect of his following my advice. I, bowever, took her in and turned the conversation upon

bin. “So Lord Dyneley is gone,” she said to me.

« What an agreeable man! He is so amusing when he likes."

I'm glad you like him. There isn't a better fellow upon earth,” I VOL. XLVII.


leave is up.

answered. “Yes, our party is breaking up. You leave next week, do you not? I must be down at my father's for Christmas, and Claude yonder joins the 14th at Dublin to-morrow.”

Her hand shook as she set down her wine-glass. She evaded a reply. "Where is your place ? Fawnham, isn't it called ?"

“ Yes, it's in Hants. I often hunt with Assheton Smith's hounds; and I have often heard how you have followed a fox in the next county, Lady Constance. I wanted Willoughby to spend Christmas with me, but his

You knew him before, did you not ? Don't you think him much altered in eight months?”

She besitated. “ He seems as indolent as ever."

“Pardon me,” I said. “I don't mean that, but his spirits are so gone down. He was one of the lightest-hearted, sunniest-tempered men possible, for all his pretended laziness; but now, I only hope he mayn't go off into consumption, as his father did before him.”

For all her high breeding, the young lad ywas as white as her lace dress. Now I lowered my voice confidentially, like a school-girl telling another of a Valentine : “ Can


tell me, Lady Constance-excuse my asking you, but I've known Claude so long, and esteem him so highly-but do you

know whether there was any one at Somerleyton who didn't treat him well, or of whom he seemed at all épris? for ever since that luckless visit he hasn't been the same fellow."

Her colour varied—the bracelets on her arm trembled. Just then Lady Fitzcorrie gave the move: she rose hastily, dropping her handkerchief in her agitation. As I gave it to her she smiled and blushed (I wished Claude had seen that smile and that blush), and said, quickly,

“ He is to be married to Miss Melbourne, is he not ?"

“He ? No; who can have told you so? What, to Miss Melbourne, that fat Australian heiress! My dear Lady Constance, he'd as soon marry a Red Indian ; he is only too fastidious about poor militaires aspiring to any one with riches.”

Her eyes danced, and she gave a quick sigh of relief; her glance dwelt on Claude a moment as she passed out of the room; he did not deserve the glance, for he had been flirting shamefully with Lady Fitzcorrie, but he caught it, and his eyes flashed out of their tired languor.

“If you don't win the game it will be your own fault," I whispered to him, as we went into the drawing-room. Constance was not there; the Viscountess challenged him to chess ; Claude let her checkmate him in no time; and when it was over, regardless of my lady's annoyance, he lounged into the music-room. Adeliza and another lady, with Romer and Ashington, were singing glees. Constance was standing by the piano turning over some music, without thinking of what she was doing. Claude went

up and looked over her: her hand lay on the memorable song. He took out his pencil and wrote underneath his former lines two others :

'Apprenez-moi ma destinée :

Faut-il vivre ? faut-il mourir ?” She looked up at him—thatwas enough for them both. The glees went on a little longer, then we went back to the drawing-room. They lingered behind us, putting up the music. I glanced round as I left the

room ; her head was resting on his shoulder, and his moustache touched her hair, so I suppose they had managed their explanations in a satisfactory style.

« Well,” said I, as we drove back to the lodge, “I expect to be groomsman, mon garçon, for certainly I've made your marriage for you. Is it all right, pray, at last ?”

“Thank God, yes ; and you're a brick, Monti,” said the gallant Captain, fervently. "You put it all square capitally, and I'm eternally obliged to you. Poor darling! she says she was just as miserable as ever I was when I left her at Somerleyton without a word. The idea of her money making me hesitate had never entered her head ; and I can't make her see that it causes the slightest barrier. When I went away, that confounded Adeliza—I always did detest that woman—told her I was engaged to Emily Melbourne (you know that dreadful girl with large feet and unheard-of tin, who dresses, too, in such awful taste ?); and when they were a month in Lowndes-square and I never went near themyou know I couldn't, I was tied down at Aldershot-she began to think I'd only flirted with her, and in a momentary pique, that she's regretted ever since, she bowed coldly to me in the Ring.'

“ That's the tale, is it? A very good lesson to people not to ride off on an idea without seeking an explanation. She's just of age, isn't she ?” I asked, having the practical side of the thing in view, and not being in love myself. “So all the money must come to you ?”

“ The money, yes,” said Claude, in disgust. Her mother's her only relative living, and she'd let her do anything she liked. I wish the money were at the devil, myself.”

“ You'd soon ask Satan for it back again."

“ But the tin never crosses her mind,” Claude went on, disdaining my interruption. “She said so prettily to me, • Never let us speak of it. What is mine is yours. I know you would give me anything, and I would take anything from you. Surely you love me sufficiently to do the same by me."

I saw he wasn't likely to talk anything sensible that night, so I left him to his delicious thoughts, and was only profoundly thankful that he did not turn the dog-cart over with his headlong driving of the poor mare. Claude had to go to Dublin the next day, to his own intense disgust. He always used to bemoan early parade, and yet enjoyed a rough campaign. But Constance wrote to her mamma, begging her to accept an invitation they had had from the Viceroy, to which her mamma, being wildly idolatrous of her, and exceedingly curious to see Claude, immediately accepted. When she did see him, she fell decidedly in love with him herselt, and being of good birth, though allied to Brummagem aristocracy, was better pleased with his gentle blood than she would have been with a long rent-roll. I went over to his marriage, which was on New Year'sday, and for the first time in his life he got up early without thinking it a hardship. We all told him he was the luckiest dog in the Service, to have won his love and twenty thousand a year by the same coup, and really on his wedding-day he was too happy to be indolent; he only swore at the breakfast as a horrid bore and a most eruel probation. Dyneley, dear old fellow, who ought to have been there to season the affair with his sparkling sarcasms, was away yachting, Heaven alone knew where.

An uncle of his had died, leaving him considerable property, but his lawyers could not tell where to address him. He was six months away. I began to get uneasy about it, for I thought he might be gone shooting to Norway, and would be very likely to go on exploring northward till he went a trifle too far into the ice-plains. At last, one night late, when I was sitting smoking in the Albany, to my delight in stalked Dyneley, looking very ill and worn, restless and impatient in his manner-quite unlike himself.

" Where have I been ?” he said. “ To Barbadoes. I set myself so many miles to do, and, for fear I should break my resolution, I took out little Dalmaine, who wanted to join his troop.”

“And have you heard your good news ?”
He looked up quickly.
“ Good news for me? That would be a miracle indeed.”

" The miracle has happened, then. Old Chesney has kicked off, and made you his heir."

“Are you certain ?” he cried, vehemently. - To be sure.

It would be nothing extraordinary.” He stood silent, leaning his head on the mantelpiece. At last, he looked up. I was astonished to see how happy he seemed, for he was generally very careless of money.

“Monti, I have farther to go to-night,” he said, hastily. “I can't stop with you now. Good-by, dear old boy, and thanks for your news. I shall see you soon again.” And, before I could stop him, he was gone again as suddenly as he had come.

As I heard afterwards, Dyneley, as soon as he left little Lilla, found out that he had not been with her four months without finding her winning ways and frank affection grow necessary to him. But having the strongest will of any man I know, he set sail nevertheless, and compelled himself to be away six months, taking Dalmaine to Barbadoes, that in case his resolution failed him he should still be obliged to go on.

All that six months his fiery and unwelcome passion grew and grew, as it does in strong natures, with absence or difficulty. Night after night he paced the deck of the Aphrodite, trying, to no purpose, to stifle it. It was not the slightest use. Love, in men like Dyneley, is not put away at a word, and he came back to England worse than he was before, with only one thought in his mind—to see Lilla. Farther he did not look, for though his pride now would have yielded, his want of money prevented his ever making her his wife. It was a fair, fresh May morning when he steamed up Loch Fine again, and saw once more the lovely woods and bays of Lilla's Argyleshire. His love, fiery as Bucephalus unbroken, made his heart beat quick with a thousand anxieties and vague fears, and his veins thrill with a longing to see her face and hear her soft, fond voice. At a slashing stride he walked the ten miles from the shore to Duncairn's farm; the bodily exertion was a relief to him. He came to the very glen where we had lost our way; he saw the chimneys of the house far off down the hill-side. His heart stood still in an anguish of dread. She might be gone, she might be The last thought he shut out as too hideous to be endured. He drew near the gate, and thanked God when he saw her. He stood for a time behind a tree and watched her sitting on the steps of. the window, her little thin hands and

pale cheeks, with the total absence of all the rayonnant brightness of expression once her peculiar charm, were a mute reproach to him. Poor child ! she was looking at his picture. He pushed the gate open, and uttered her name. She glanced up, sprang towards him with a wild cry, and threw herself on his breast, laughing and weeping in an agony of joy. She looked up in his face, tears raining down her cheeks.

“ You are come back at last. I knew you would. I have watched for you every day. Ah, you will never leave me again-promise me you never will !”

Exhausted with the intensity of her joy, she turned sick and faint, and her head drooped on his arm. He began to fear the shock might harm her; but joy never hurts any one permanently, and Dyneley's words and caresses after a time brought her to consciousness, though not for a very long time to calmness. But, in truth, I dare say, though he sets up for a philosopher, my lord was not so very much calmer himself, being, for all he may say to the contrary, of an enthusiastic, vehement, impulsive Bature when he is roused.

“Ah! it was cruel to leave me,” murmured Lilla, when they had grown a little more tranquil. “ If you knew all the agonies of suspense, all I have felt when I knew not where you were, whom you were with, whether

you were well or ill, happy or unhappy-if you could guess how the days dragged on from sunrise to sunset, and I watched for you, always in vain, and my brain whirled and my heart sickened with the longing to look upon your face-oh! if you had known all I suffered, I do not think you would have gone !"

Dyneley thanked her-selon les règles : “Dear child, do you think I, too, did not suffer ? I did what I thought best for you.

Honour alone forced me from you then. Had I stayed another day in Scotland I could never have left you. But when I was away from you, I felt to the uttermost how dear you


to me. I knew that as soon as I came to England I should come to you. Last night I heard of inheritance of money, which enables me to marry; and to you, who loved me when you knew not that I loved you—you, who would have loved me through every trial and

sacrifice-to you I can now offer both my name and my home. Make me happy, Lilla, as, since my boyhood, I have never yet been.”

They were married in Argyleshire very soon after, for if Dyneley sets his mind upon a thing he never waits for it. She does make him happy. Iler caressing, demonstrative, passionate devotion to him just suits him. He wants something strong and out of the common. One of your“quiet,” retiring girls, with their calm, domestic affection, would have bored him eternally-never understood, and never satisfied him. Anything cold, conventional, or inanimate in a wife would have distracted him, and driven him away from her in no time.

Vauxley is thrown open, and little Lilla shines brilliantly in her new life, which must be a curious contrast to that in Argyleshire. Women take her to task for her enthusiasm, her impulsiveness

, and for a hundred thousand things, of course, because she is so delightful to us. The Cardonnels would now be very happy to notice her, and make many advances towards it, but he does not choose his little diamond of the



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