Chapter 162363499

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter TitleOSCAR.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162363499
Full Date1896-10-10
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2221
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Ducies of Dulverton
article text

THE DUCIES OF DULVERTON.

BY GEORGE B. BUJIGIN.

Author of " A Quaker Girl," Ac., &c.

CHAPTER V.

OSCAR.

Whan Cissy awoke the next morning the Sun was streaming iuto her room in a most reprehonsibly cheerful way. She got up at once. Her little chamber was so bright that it was impossible to indulge in morbid analysis. Suddenly she stopped twisting her hair, as she caught sight of her face in the glass. " I really believe," she declared to the portrait of the Rev. James, " that wo shall be friends. Only—only I. should like to brush that curl out of the way. It must be so diffi cult to live up to it."

To this saucy remark the portrait vouch safed no answer,

" You see," said Cissy, deftly manipulating, certain refractory hairpins, if people will hang you on the wall you must put up with my impertinences. ' You can't run away from me, although you look as if you were rather out of | place. I've always had a longing in Church, when the sermon has been unusually dreary, to get up and ask a few questions. A clergy man seems to me to have things too much his own way. Now, here I have everything my own way. I can say anything I like to you, and you can't answer me according to my folly. But I think I had better go down and see whether any qno is awake. It is 8 o'clock. I wonder if I ought to dust things."

She laughed, softly as she went down the winding passage. "I haven't even an apron."

Cissy darted back to her room and produced a fairy-like garment, with little pockets in it. " This is the sort of thing the smart tovbrettr. always wears in plays," she said. "I will wear one; but I will make it useful as well as ornamental."

I Then she found her way into the breakfast ! room.

" I think," she continued, "if I am to begin ' my career cf usefulness, I had hotter get a few

flowers. I can do that."

! She opened the window and stepped out on

the terrace. In tin*, distance some village cliil i dren were feeding the swans on the lake. A

gorgeous peacock came aidlin ; upas if inviting her to count every eye in his outstretched tail. " I'd better follow you," said Cissy. "I should like to know your haunts."

i The bird gravely strutted before her down

the long path, on either side of which rose a dwarf hedge of closely clipped yews. Cissy followed him into this sleepy quietude out of thosimiighf. Suddenly the path ended; she \ was in a circular garden of flower-bods in the 1 middle. Imm sdiateiy facing her was a second ; path. She followed the peacock into another | circular garlcn. Then the peacock sunned ! himself in the middle of a choice flower-bed, j and refused to be dislodged. When Cissy

tried todrivehim off, ho showed'fight.

"Fie, yon underbred thing!" said Cissy. "You are net half as gentlemanly as my pet jackdaw. Ah, if I had a broom!" Suddenly she espied the gardene's barrow, and beside it the article she wanted. "Now," she said, with mock" determination, "if you won't ' poggloiso,' as Corney Grain used to say. and be off, ' with my rapier of Milan steel, I'll run thee through tKe midriff. I don't know ex actly where a psvjmk's * midriff' is, but I must trust largely to Providence in my on.1 .savours to find out; Now, wiil you move- on? I've

tried moral suasion, but it evidently has 110 effect on a gilded tyrantlikfl you."

The peacock gavo a hoarse scream.

• "That's a defianoe, is it?" asked Cissy,'

fairly overflowing with' high spirits, at" the absurdity.of the situation. " You don't know what it Is 4o defy a lady-help. You'd better gaze your last on earth and sky for one of us must die."

She advanced a step, with upraised broom.

"Couldn'twe arrange a modus vivendi?—"it's, tho Latin for your giving up the flower-bed," she said. " You are much too beautiful to be banged about with-a broom.- Besides, you don't belong to me. You are the property of

another."

The-peacock screamed again and broke a fow more plants.

"I don't care if you are another's," said Cissy, desperately. You'll have to oome off those plants. I can't stand it any longer." Stio made a thrust at tho peacock with the

broom. -

" En garde, mademoiselle," cried a laughing voioe; but the battle was over, and thesoream ing peacock disappeared down another long walk. .

Cissy had burst into inextinguishable laughter at tho rotreat of her enemy, . Then she remembered the voice, and dropped the

broom.

. "Permit mo," said the voice, and a hand some young fellow, of four or five and twenty nppoared from behind tiio hedge, and picked it up.

" Thank you, but I have no further need of it," she answered.

" But the enemy may return, mademoiselle," he said, with mock gravity. " It is never safe to disarm under such circumstances."

Then lie romombered that she didn't know him. Ho drew his feet together, and made a profound how.

• Allow me to jntroduce myself, lie said. " I am Oscar Van Heidonstein, and I liave had the honour of being your second in this

duel."

She bowed, gravely. Hero was a chance to realize the truth of her position.

"I am Miss L'Estrange," she said, "Miss Ducie'a lady help." . 1

His blue eyes dauood with merriment.

England is a great country, mademoiselle," he said, seriously; " but, oh, it abounds with surprises. I send a telegram*— I am impatient to sec my good aunts—I take a night train— I rush to the door—I go round to the window to surprise them at their first ddjeuner—and thore is nobody up. In Smyrna we get up at

sunrise."

Cissy afterwards remembered noticing that he wa3 very handsome, with broad shoulders, and the active movements of an accomplished fencer. His hat had tumbled off, and she could see his crisp curling black hair elabo rately partod in the middle. His blue eyes were thoroughly English^ and she mentally found herself contrasting his wavy moustache with the Rev. James's lovelock. His well shaped aquiline nose gave him an appearanoo of intense energy. He was dressed in a plain tweed suit, but his elaborate tie looked foreign. A beautiful liver coloured and white spaniel was at his heels. _ _ '

" D6n't you think that it is almost timo to have breakfast now?" she asked. "If you have been travelling all night, you must bo hungry."

" Oh, thank you, that is nothing. I arrived here about 4 o'clock, and took what you call a fly—because it orawis so, I suppose. I got out and walked, and the fly is not hero yet. Some day when my good aunts wake up, the fly will

?Isl.s

arrive, and I shall get my clothes once again."

"But you must be half-starved," said Cissy, in accents of profound pity. "Did you—did you try one of the railway station buns?"

His face was comic in its disgust.

"I tried," he said. " I have often been near to death, but that was nearer still. Even my dog wouldn't touch it. We gave it to a goat as we came along, and tho poor goat is very unwell. Ah, if I had those refreshment people in Smyrna I would disguise myself as a brigand, and make them eat the buns them selves. They would all die, and people would say serve them right. But I am not getting your flowers, mademoiselle."

Ho made a spring into the middle of the bed, and rapidly collected tho best blossoms. One be put into bis coat.

" If you will allow mc," be. said, apologeti cally; "it is something like the anemones at

the tehiftlok."

" What is a—something with a sneeze that you said just now?" enquired Cissy, as they went up the path.

Hostoppod, his fine face lit up wish a serious light.

" Ah, mademoiselle, if you could only see it: ' Our tehiftlek is a heautiful little farm at tlio head of a fertile valley. The vast sides of the mountains stretch a\yay into the distance, and at the foot of the tehiftlek is the village, every

soul of which knows me."

"Did you —did you," asked Cissy, in an awestruck whisper -"did you ever meet a real brigand? Not a stage brigand, all hat and feathers, hut a real live brigand, dotted over with swords and pistols, and who didn't wash?"

"Oh." he said, with an air of pardonah'o pride, " I was captured by them once."

They reached the dining-room window. No

one had descended. I

"Come in and toll mo all about it," said Oissv, " only you must remember that-I am the lady-help, and tell me to do things,"

"All, that would be very nice," he said, enthusiastically.

.She made iiira sit. down in the armchair.

" I suppose," she said, "the. lady-help has

to do the honours in the absence of any one! else." _ I

He didn't seem at, all in a hurry for any one i else to do them, but brought Cissy some jais to put the flowers in, and then sat down on a lounge with t.hc air of one who was just beginning the day.

"When you were captured?" enquired

C issv,

" I will tell you as simply as possible. Wo had what vou call a steam-plough. It will not make itself to work. I put in my head to see

its inaides. Another head is put in too. . ' C »inc out,' savs a voice. T come out. ' Hola. mv friend, you are very peremptory,' T

say. ' I am Nice,' the man savs. 'Old Nieo i or young Nice?' 'He silent, or I will shout.' ' Let us fight it out.' 'Agreed.' Wefight.it out. I run him through the arm and the others knock me down. Then all the women

of the vil'age run up weeping and wailing for me, hut Nim puts a pistol to rnyear and leads me off. We march about in the mountains until I am nj thin as a greyhound. Nieo makes mv father send seventeen pairs of trousers for the band, and a Hihle for me. ' You will read the Hihle in ease I have to kill you,'says my friend Nieo. 'If the ransom is not paid in throe weeks T shall send down your pretty ears. We sleep all the day and travel all the night. "Then the ransom is paid. Nieo kisses me, and gives m:s his bes; pistol and vataghan, and asks me to join thorn, but T decline. Oh, brigands are not at all

bad fellows."

"But if they cut off your cars?"

" That; is busin :--s. Apart from bruin -. we w ve gr at fri *n Is when his arm got well. .See, here is his phot-:!,"

Cissy gave a sliriek. It was a photograph at

several bullet-riddled "heads on a table.

" Yds," said Van Heideastein affectionately. " that is poor Nico."

"But how—how did ho got there!" asked Cissy, letting the dreadful thing drop, y . .

"Ah, the poor Nico/' ho said regretfully; "when the ransom is paid the GoretomCni sends out the soldiers, and they surround Nioo whilst he is asleep in a vineyard. < They all creep round Nico and his band, so (illustrating the motion), aud raise their guns. Piff-pUff and poor Nico is almost blown to bite. He used to toll me of his lovely Greek wife and their little island home in the dSgean, and how she wohWjsit under the lemons and myrtles awaiting Kis return. I went to apologise for the death of Nico, ahd she tried to kill me, but she was sorry forit afterwards." . " ;

" What became of her, the poor. thing!" questioned Cissy.

"3he married our head shepherd. Nioo made a lot Of money iu tho business, and she iswelltodo."

" Whoever," said a voice at the door, which Cissy recognised as Miss Dorothea's, " can that be at this hour of tho day? ' There is a fly in the stable-yard, too."

"It cannot Iks our dear boy," said Miss Pris3y, in tremulous tones.

She came nervously into tho room. The young man rose, his great eyes filling with tear3 as ho reverently kissed her hand. '

"It is my dear mother's faoe," he said ten derly, and the next moment she waB weeping on his neck.

Cissy stole noiselessly away, and found Miss Dorothea sniftiug outside. She went up to her room. Presently tho staid Martha Tibpscame

to summon her to breakfast.

" Oh 1 Mm," said tho queer little old maid, excitedly, "excuse the liberty I'm taking, bus ain't he lovely? lie's a regular Apolyon, that's what I call hiin," and poor 'Cissy had to stuff her handkerchief in her mouth and deacend to the breakfast-room, followed by Marthas—

"You mayn't agree with me, Miss, but that's what 1. call him—a regular Apolyon,"