Chapter 161821344

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Chapter NumberXVII
Chapter TitleTHE HUSBAND AT KENSINGTON GOr.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161821344
Full Date1895-05-18
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count1772
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

THE NOVELIST. ;

THE THIRD VOLUME,

BY FERGUS HUME,

Author of "The Mystery of a Hsnaom 0&h,n

" The Lone Inn," "The Ohtneee J or," fto. '

CHAPTER XVII.

THE HUSBAND AT KENSINGTON GOBI.

To a woman who roles by right of beauty it ie a terrible thing to eee ber empiro.alipping from her grasp by reason of grey hairs and wrinkles. What desperate effort* doe* she make to protract ber sway, how she dyea and paints and powders and tight laoes —all to no end, for Time is stronger than art, and finally he writes his sign-manual too deep to be effaoed by ousmetios. Mrs. Hilliston was not yet beaten in the . fight with the old enemy, but she foresaw the futare when she would be shamed and negleoted close at

baud.

Perhaps it was the premonition of defeat that made her so unamiable, sharp, and bitter on the night when Olaude oame to dine. She liked Ulaudo and bad stood in the place of a mother to him ; but lis was a men, and handr Borne, so when she Baw hiB surprised look at her obanged appearance all the evil that was in her oame to the eurfaoe.

Yet she need not bare felt so hitter a pang bad she taken the trouble to glanoe at her image in the near mirror. It reflected a tall, stylish figure, wbioh in the dim light of the drawing-room looked majestio and beautifnl. It was all very well to think that she appeared barely thirty in the twilight, but she knew well that the daylight showed np her forty seven years in the most merciless manner. Velvet robeB, diamond necklaces, and audb like aids to beauty would not make np for lack of youth, and Claude's ill-ad vised start brought

this home to ber.

Ten years before she bad married Hilliston in utter ignorance of the house at Hampetead. Though she did not know it ehe was not nnlike ber rival. There was the same majesty, the earns imperious beauty, the same passionate nature, but Mrs. Bezel was worn and wasted by illness, whereas Mrs. Hillieton, aided by art, looked a rarely beautiful woman.

People said she had not done vrell to marry Hilliston. She was then a rich widow from Amerioa, and wanted to take a position in society. With her looks and her money she mighii have married a title, but handsome Hilliston crossed ber path, and though he was then fifty years of age she fell in love with him on the spot. Wearied of Mrs. Bezel, anxious to mend his failing fortunes, Hilliston accepted the homage thus offered. He did not love her, but kept tbat knowledge to himself, so Mrs. berriok, the wealthy widow, secured the man sbe idolized. She gave all, wealth, beauty, love, and received nothing in

During all their married life her lore bad undergone no abatement. She loved her huB band passionately, and her one objeot in life was to please him. At the time of the mar riage she had rather resented the preBenoe of Claude in Hilliston's house, but soon accepted him as an eatafc'ished faot, the more so as be took up his profession shortly afterwards, and left her to reign alone over the heart of her husband. When the young man oalted ehe was always kind to him, she constantly looked after his welfare, and playfully styled herself his mother. Olaude was greatly attached to her, and spoke of ber in the highest terms, but for the life of him be could not suppress that start, though he knew it wounded her to the heart. During his five years of absence e&e had aged greatly, and art seemed rather to

accentuate than eonceal the truth.

"You find me altered, I am afraid,"eaid she bitterly, "age is robbing me of my

looks."

"By no moans," answered Claude, with a desire to please her ; "at the worst yon are only growing old graoefully."

"Small comfort in that," sighed Mrs. Hiiliston. " I do not WAnt to grow old at all. However, it i« no use fighting the in evitable, but I hope I'll die before I beoome a

hag."

" You will never beoome one."

"I am not so sureof that. I'm one of those large women who turn to bones and wrinkles in old age."

" In my eyes viu will always be beautiful, Louise," said Hiiliston, who entered at this moment. " You are an angel ever bright and

fair."

"Yon have not lust the art of saying pretty things, Francis," replied bis wife, greatly gratified, "but there is the gong. Olaude, take your mother in to dinner."

The young man winoed at she said this,

thinking of his real mother who lay siok and feeble at Hampstead. Hiiliston saw bis ohange of oountenance and bit bis lip to pre vent himself remarking theroon. He guessed what Olaude was thinking about, and.thus his thoughts were turned in the same direction. At the present moment the memories thus evoked were most unpleasant.

During dinner Mrs. Hiiliston recovered ber spirits and talked freely enough. No one was present save Olaude and her husband, so they were a very pleasant party of three. While in the full flow of oonveraation, Olaude could not help thinking that Tait was unjust to suspect the master of the house of underhand deal ings; for Hiiliston was full of smiles and geniality, and did his best to entertain his gneBt. Could (Jlaude have looked below the surface he would have been considerably astonished at the inward aspect of the roan. Yet a hint was given him of such want of con oord, for Hiiliston showed the oloven hoof

before the meal ended.

"So you are going to Eastbourne," said Claude, addressing himself to Mrs. Hiiliston. " I hope you will come over to I'JiorstDD during your stay."

"It is not unlikely," replied the lady. "Franois intends to make excursions all round the country."

"Only for your amusement, my dear," said Hiiliston hastily. You know how dreary it is to pace daily up and down that

Parade."

"I think Eastbourne is dreary in any oase. It is solely on your account that I am

going."

Hiiliston did not answer, but Btole a glance at Claude to see what lie thought. The face of the young mas was inscrutable, though Olaude was mentally considering that Tait was right, and Hilliston's journey to East bourne was undertaken to interview Jenny

Faynton.

"I don't like your English watering plaoes," continued Mrs. Hiiliston idly, "they are eoexasperatinely dull. In America we can have a good time at Newport, bnt all your smith coast is devoid of amusement. Trou ville or Droppa are more enjoyable than Easthourno or Folkestone."

"The fault of the national character, my dear Louise. We English take our pleasures sadly you know."

For the sole purpose of seeing what effect it would prod nee on the lawyer, Olaude pnrposoly introduced the name of the town where bis father had met his death.

" I wonder youdon't try an inland watering

jflaoe, Mrs. Hilliston,''he said calmly, "Bath or Tuobridge Weill, or—HorriBton.

Hilliston looked up quiokly end then busied himBeU with his food. Disoomposed as he vu, his iron will enabled him to retain a quiet demeanour; but the effeot of the name on the wife wai more pronounoed than it was on her husband.. Her oolour went and she laid down her knife and fork.

"Ah, I don't know Horriston," she said faintly, " Home inland—ah, how hot this room It; open the window," she added to the foot man, " we want freBh air."

Rather astonished at the effeot thus pro duoed, Olaude would have spoken, but that

Hilliston forestalled him.

"The room is.hut,"he said lightly, "but the fresh air will soon revive you, Louise. I am glad we are going to Eastbourne, for you sadly needaohango.

' "Tha tnaenn he

'The season has been rather trying,"

replied hia wife, resuming her dinner. "What were you saying about Horriston, Olaudof"

"Nothing. Ionlykqow it is a provincial town set in beautiful scenery. I thought you might wish to try a change from the fashion able seaside plooe."

"£ might go there if it is pretty," an stvered Mrs. Hilliston who was now perfectly oomposed. " Where is HorriBton t"

"In Kent," interposed Hilliston quickly, " not very far from Canterbury. I have been there myself, but as it is a rather dull neigh bourhood I would not advise you to try it."

Despite her denial, Claude felt certain that Mrs. Hilliston was acquainted with Horris ton, for on the plea of indisposition she left the table before the dinner was euded. As Bhe passed through tlio door she playfully tapped Olaudeou the shoulder with her tan.

"Don't forget to come and see us at ESaetbourne," she said vivaciously, "and bring Mr. Tait with you. He is a great favourite of mine."

This Claude promised to do and, when she left the room, returned to his seat with a rhther puzzled expression on his faoe. Hillis ton saw the look, and endeavoured to banish it by a hasty explanation.

"You rather startle my wife by mentioning Horriston," he said in an annoyed toDo. " 1 - with you bad not done so. As it is connected with the case, she naturally feels an antipathy towards it."

" What! Does Mrs. Hilliston know about my father's death!" asked Claude in some surprise.

" Yes, When we were married she wanted to know why you lived in the house with hie, so I was forced to explain alt the oircuin

etaiioes,"

" I)o you think that was necessary ?"

" I do. You know how suspicious women are," replied Hilltston lightly; "they will know the truth. Hut you can trust to her discretion, Claude. No oue will hear of it from her."

At this moment a footman entered the room with a message from Mrs. Hilliston.

"My mistress wants to know if you havo the third volume of ' Whim of Fate,'sir, "said the servant.

"No,"replied Hilliston,sharply. "Tellyour

mistress that I took it to my office by mistake.

She will have it to-morrow.

Claude thought this strange, and when the footman retired Hilliston made another

explanation equally as unsatisfactory as the

first.

"I am eo iuterested in that book that I oould not lenvo it at home," he said quickly, "and now that I have met the author I am dotibly interested in it."

Another proof of Tate's aoumen. Hilliston was the first to introduce the subject of Johu Parvcr.