|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
THE DEVIL’S OWN.
CHAPTER XX. (Continued).
AN AUSTRALIAN STORY BY MRS. RICHMOND HENTY. (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
"Would you mind having a dance late on, Sir Hubert? I am so tired that I was just going to find a seat and give up this dance. I forgot it was yours. I
thought it was Mr. Forrers’s,” she said, looking at her card, h>lie was in hopes that she could cscapo dancing with the baronet, who had no idea of good waltzing. She dreaded a tete-a-tete. It was a choice of evils. However, a tete-a-tete would be preferable to being the laughing-stock of the com pany, as a dance with him would be. “So sorry I didn’t kuow of your party to-morrow, said Lord Veroker, lingering on as long as lie possibly could. “ I'll see if I can manage to get out of going with the Governor.” Oh, no, don’t do that. Oonio and dine with us on Thursday.” “Thank you,” ho said, as Sir Hubert took her away quickly to the conservatory for a flirtation, which she strongly objected to, and so turned to leave him. “ Mrs. Anneylaye, slay—for God’s sake, hear me. You must.’ Why do you try to avoid mo ? ” “I do not,” she said, gently. “ Take me into the drawing-room.” “ You never allow me to see you alone, which is much the same thing. God ! if you knew how I love you—how you are part of my very existence—over present to me, even in my dreams ! Bah ! you women are all alike, you have no heart, no pity, no mercy," he said, fiercely. “ Hush ! ” she said, turning very pale, “you are strangely forgetting yourself, Sir Hubert. Will you kindly take mo back to the ballroom," she added, coldly. “ No, you shall hear mo fiist,” he said, vehemently, moving towards her as she drew back, half frightened at his manner “ By heavens, Vera, you have no mercy. Will you not give me some little hope when I tell you agvin and again that I cannot livo without you You are the only woman I have over loved with a deep, unchanging love, and I tell you this —I would blow out my braius this very night if I thought for one moment that there was no hope of your over becoming mine. I can wait; only give mo one small ray of hope to brighten my life. Say you don’t hate me.” “I hate no one,” she said, “ except per haps one person, and I pray even that God may forgive him, for I never can.” He drew nearer to her in silence, as if awaiting her answer, with arms folded. There was a dead silence broken only by the splashing of the fountain and the dis tant strains of the “Blue Danube” ns they came from the ballroom. She moved back as if in alarm or dread of him in his mad excitement, as his eyes •eemed to pierce into her very soul. “Js it to be death or life for me, Vera? Answer quick, only one little word'.” “ I cannot,” she said, sadly, “ for I can never love again, and if ever I did marry it would only bo out of gratitude.” “Gratitude,” he said, wildly, “what have you to do with gratitude? Surely there is no occasion for you to be grateful to anyone. You have not to marry for money or position—would to God such was the case, it might then be well with me. Tell me, what do you mean by the word gratitude?” “Only this,” she said, gently moving a step nearer to Sir Hubert, as if to whisper something sacred, “when my beloved hus band was oruolly snatched away from me I made a vow that I would never marry anyone but the discoverer of my darling's murderer, should he so wish it.” Sir Hubert stai ted back in surprise, “Murdered,” he said. “Yes, murdered. Ho was most cruelly murdered; You must have hoard of it, there was no question of suicide, if that is what you mean that you look so sur prised. He must have had an enemy, some poor coward who evidently owed, or fancied ho owed, my husband u grudge, and like a sntike in the grass crept upon my darling in the dusk of a summer even ing, giving him no time to defend himself. Oh, it was bo cruel—so dastardly ! ” she said, flushing up in her angry recital, “I only pray,” she continued, “that I may meet my enemy face to face, I have not given up all hope yet. I thank heaven if lam beautiful, If it is so as people say, it may repay perhaps the devotion of some faithful and energetic worker in my cause, i shall marry no one else, and even then I have no heart to give.” His brow darkened as ho moved back a pace and listened, his eyes watching hers as she told him all she had to tell, her face flushed with excitement and vexation in the recital. She had never looked so beautiful, ho thought to himself, for be had only seen her in her quiet home-life, gentle looking ad a Madonna. Suddenly he'started, as some ray of delight bright ened up bis dark, evil features, dark just now, even under the brilliancy of the wax lights of the conservatory. '•'lt shall be accomplished,"he exclaimed, taking her hand, “all shall bo as you wish. Money can work wonders in this mer cenary age. I shall claim you yet, my heart’s chosen. You will let mo see you often—life is no life without a sight of your dear face; without you it would bo a living death.” “No, I cannot meet you, Sir Hubert, except in friendship, until ” “Jkun to earth—found at last. My dear Mrs. Anneylaye, I have been hunt ing the place over for you. Gained ever lasting hatred from no end of couples in flirtation nooks and corners in my search. Never thought of the fernery, by Jove. This is our dance, but the folks are pair ing off for supper, ‘ The animals went in two by two, hurrah.’ We must get good places near the top of the room to hoar the speeches," said Ebenozer Jones, hurry ing up and marching off in triumph with Mrs. Anneylaye, regardless of Sir Hubert nud the tete-a-tete. “I fear I must have interrupted a most interesting conversation, slra. Anneylaye, botanical, 1 suppose,” I “No, if anything, psychological,” she answered, blushing. “But I thank you dor coming to the rescue so opportunely.” “No, really? I felt quite nervous about it—you don’t mean it. I always thought Sir Hubert Army Cage was a veritable conquering hero amongst ladies, an * 1 came, J saw, I conquered ’ of lucky fellow, much to be envjtd, D.oyou know you are the envy of half the women in the room to-night for monopolising the baronet, such a pulling of cups aa there as.” “Not on my account,” she said, “please •don’t say any more on the subject,” know ing her partner was a bit of a flirt him self, with u weakness for pretty women, .nnd the pretty widow in particular. Sir Hubert Armytage drew himself up haughtily, looked daggers at his innocent friend Jones, then a curse bo
tween hia sot teeth, and watched the pair aa they sauntered through the drawing room, laughing and chatting as they were lost to view. "Our&e him, I’ll win her yet,” said Sir Hubert, stopping for a moment to think. “What a delicious perfume—it is the daphne, ’ said a woman’s voice noir. Xho baronet started. Hid ho know the voice ? It seemed so, for ho Hushed angrily and then listened attentively. “Let me get you a chair,” said a man’s voice. “No, thank you, I prefer standing. Is it not oool here 1 —such a lovely con trast to the hot ballroom. Yc-s, you may get me a choir, I shall remain hero till' my partner finds me out. 1 am loo tired to dance any more. If you see Mr. Forth ask him to get another partner; you know, I promised him this dance, but I am tired,” she added, looking at the luxuriant blossoms. She leant forward to smell a daphne plant as her partner at her wish harried away to find his partner for the next dance. Sir Hubert Arrnytage passed at the moment she was loft to herself. Sho looked up in surprise, their eyes met, she] Staggered back as if stricken by n blow, turning ghastly white, as sho clutched the back of her chair for support. __ “You, oh, GodJ is it you ?” she gasped, giving a sweeping look at his hand as if in doubt, her bosom heaving with emotion, “ Hush, they will hear you. Don’t make a scone. Of course I know you. Do you think I can so easily forget you and the part you took in my father’s murder ?” “Y our—father’s—murder,” sho said, slowly, as if nob believing her ears. “ Fanchette, what is the matter ?” he said, jauntily. “ You arc ill—faint—the j heat. Let me take you into the hall, | there is moro air there,” he said, offering 1 his arm. “You,” she said, almost choking with rage, “How dare you speak to me. Stand back ; don't touch me,” sho biased, imperiously, stamping hbr foot, but hold ing the chair for support. “Leave me, I tell you, or you may regret this hour ; go—go." Ho obeyed sullenly, muttering “As you will,” as he left the conservatory, she still clinging to the chair, one hand on her heart, as if to quiet its beatings. The lights even dazzled her, and the ferns were floating on a mist before her, nnd she would have fallen heavily and on the stones but for some arms that caught her as sho fell, laying her down gently, and supporting her head with his arm, “ Mademoiselle Marin — Fanchette,” said Sholto Forth, looking at her. She looked more beautiful than ever to him in her pallor as she lay there, the soft folds of her black lace dress, with its masses of scarlet Hebisens, contrasting so with the pure white shoulders. He waited patiently for a moment, hoping some one might come to his assist ance. Had it been another place he would gladly have carried her in his arms to the nearest couch, but he was reluctant to make her conspicuous. He waited. “Go away,” sho said, “ I hate yoa— coward,” she murmured, her eyes closed as if to avoid seeing some one near her. “Mademoiselle Fanchette,” ho said, softly, “ do you not know me—Sholto Forth—you cannot mean what you said. Oh, my love, have you so soon forgotten our last waltz ? ” She opened her eyes wide at the voice, as (ho color came back vividly to her face. “Was it a dream?” she whispered. “Is it really you, Mr. Forth ? I am so gl-»d, [ thought it was ” She shuddered. “I must have had some horrible dream, and yet ” “lb is only me, my dearest,” he said, “you are better, Fanchette—speak.” Ho as-isted her to rise, pulling a chair forward for her. “My dearest, ’ ha said, lovingly, “f have so long* cl for this hour, when amidst the ferns and with no one to interrupt us, I could (ell you of my love. But, see, I am merciful, I will wait till you are your self again. You have overtired yourself.” “ I should like to go home,” she said, shivering, “ft is so long since I was at a ball. Do you think you could find Mrs. Oholmondeley ?” “Yes, at o 'Ce,” he said, “if you wish it. I saw Mrs, Cholmondoloy in the supper room, I don’t like to leave you, except to get you a glass of wine. Will you let me, dearest?” She was silent, and ho hurried away for an instant, returning with some wine. “I am much better, thank you so much. How did it all happen?—but don’t stay, go and have some supper.” “Your white face has frightened all my appetite and spirits away.” “I am very sorry—I am, really,” she said, smiling the sweet fascinating smile that had charmed so many. “You aro quizzing me,”ho said, “a sure sign you are bettor. Now let us wend our way to the madding crowd together. I know Mrs. Oholmondeley is in the supp t room talking to Gordon. I think I can see her.” “Ah, here you are, young people, I wondered what had become of you,” said Mrs. Oholmondeley, coming out of the supper room and mooting the pair. “Where have you been hiding yourself, though there is no such good luck as being run away with in these unromantic days. Give me the old days, when any girl of beauty and fair merits was carried off to some fine old castle by a chivalrous lover in doublet and plumes, ready to die for his ladyo love—oh, Mr. Gordon?” “Well, I don’t know about the dying part of i(, Mrs. Oholmondeley, but as f *r as the carrying off, I shall bo moat happy to appear in doublet and plumes—let it bo midnight—and make an attempt— i (“ Don’t be too severe about avoirdupois, my dear sir,” said Mrs. Cholmondoloy, merrily)—to carry you off—if you won’t tel! my wife,” said Mr, Gordon, laughing all over his face, “What about the castle?” said the lady. “Of course, it was the doublets and plumed hats 1 hat created the effect in the tableau. Now nil is different,” said Gor don, “a man looks such an arrant fool making love in a tail coat and white choker, and a double distilled ditto if in his ardor ho sinks on his knees to propose, though I half agree with you tlmfc there is a want of genuine romance and pure sen timent in those days—too much traffic in marriages.” “I think I shall write a sensations! book, nnd call it 1 Offers of Marriage.' What a fund of useful and sentimental in formation anyone could muster—scrip tural to commence with, and historical, then on to tragical and comical. Unfor tunately, only sensational books pay in these days. Fan, my dear, what is the matter, you look so white—you have over danced yourself,” said Mrs. Oholmondeley, turning short round, and seeing Mdlle. Marin. “Mr. Gordon, will you get a sandwich—anything for my young friend. Sho lordcs quite exhausted. “I cannot get mademoiselle to take anything,” said Forth. “Nonsense, Fancjiette, yoq must oat, jf
it is only a sandwich. Then wo will say good-night. It is late—too late—for an | old woman like me. I will hunt up our 1 wraps. Good-night, Mr. Gordon, I Sup pose you will be frisking about till ‘bright chanticleer proclaims the dawn ’ 1 ” “No, I shall seo you to the carriage, then I am off. I have already missed my beauty sleep. Give mo your ticket and I will got your things. I often get my wife’s.” rs. Cholmondeley objected to giving anyone trouble if she could help it, so went herself to the cloak-room, soon re appearing in the hall, whore after a moment Panchotte joined her, Mr. Forth carefully wrapping Mdlle. Marin’s cloak round her fair shoulders. “Mrs. Oholmondoloy’s carriage stops the way,” shouted a footman. “What a model servant ! —it is only a hansom,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley, laugh ing, “but by far the best vehicle for night work • and the men are always so civil. You have such nice waggonettes, such an improvement on our horrible London growlers, as we call the dirty four-wheel cabs in London. We have no waggonettes, and yet thoy are infinitely superior—so clean and so rraso cable.” “Yes, I think thoy are an improvement —certainly after the very uncomfortable back to back old jingles wo used to have, which were neither one thing or the other.” “Good night—I Jiopo we shall all meet to-morrow at Mrs. Anneylaye’s—-jolly little woman—great friend of my wife’s,” said Mr. Gordon, as the footman shut the the door of the hansom and called for the next carriage. “I have accepted an invitation for both of us to lunch with Mrs. Anneylaye to morrow, Fan, to meet Mr. and Mrs. Jones, the Gordons, and others—Sir Hubert Armytage and Mr. Forth, I think,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley, as they drove away. “Not for me, I sincerely hope,” said the girl, as she took a last look at the group of men at the door they had just left, and caught sight of Mr. Forth still watching the cab and waving his adieux as it swept out of sight. “If there is anything I detest i* is going out to lunch. The very fact of stuffing or eating with a crowd of people in a close room with one’s bonnet on, one’s face ablaze with the heat of the room, one’s hands like paws, raw looking as a bundle of radishes, the effect of the hot or cold morning atmosphere—• is simply too horrible to contemplate— certainly an antidote to all love or even admiration ; so awfully trying and unbe coming, to say nothing of the discomfort of it. even if there were nice people—and there never are. Where have wo ever mot nice people at lunch? I am sure I cannot remember—generally a collection of nobodies. Have you forgotten our Inst lunch?—I moan at the Tindall’s. Was there ever such a colled ion of old frumps and resuscitated mummies? More like pickled lizards from the British Museum. And eleven women to three men—perfect martyrs, poor fellows, how I pitied them. Oh, it was too horrible ! And when-tho old dowdies all cackled to gether it was a hen convention with a vengeance.” “My dear, you ought to have been con tent, you had one of the three martyrs—an I author, and clover,” “Yes, a positive death’s head and bones I individual, eh, dear ? ” said Fancliette, ' laughing out loud at the recollection, “Well, my dear, I had martyr No. 2, who was an honorable somebody in the I Lower House, a Minister of something, but he ate with Ins knife, and nourished it about so franMcally he quite frightened mo lest ho should cut his own throat in his anxiety to get to his mouth. Talk about cannibals, the Honorable Jack— yes, I know his name was Jack—was per fectly voracious. I quite with you that lunches are simply apologies for not asking people to dinner,” “Of course they are. I have never met a decent man yet at one—they wouldn't bo scon there. I vote wo plead fatigue and get out of such* a penanco,” “No, I cannot do that,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley, “for nothing would tempt mo to dino so far away, A drive of some miles without an escort on a dark night would bo impossible. I wouldn’t do it. Whereas a lunch only entails a pleasant litllo railway trip. We needn’t remain the afternoon, though there is to bo tennis.” “Well, what can’t be cured must be en dured,” said the girl, “I only hopo they will bestow some docent biped on mo 1 during the ordeal.” “I only hope you will not he in one of your mischievous humours. I shall pity your partner, poor man. I hoar little Mrs. Anneylaye’s lunches are always a success —she sorts her people so well,” said Mrs. Oholmondeicy, as they drove up to the door of their ho ted and got out of the cab. “I am awfully tired,” said Fanohette, “I dread having to mount any stairs. 1 declare if I could only catch a glimpse of that seven leagued courier I would get him to carry mo upstairs and land mo at 1 my bedroom I would really ” “My dear child, do be careful, there are bo many doors to these passages, people may hear you.” “I shouldn’t mind if they <J»d. \ am too tired to-night to mind anybody or anything,” said the girl as tfyoy wont slowly upstajrs to their sitting room, which she entered, and then sitting down to the table, leant her head upon her hands. “Good night, deaiy—1 know you must bo tired,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley, taking the candle to adjourn. “Good night, dear," said the girl, toll ; Watson I can manage without her to j night. Good night.” I She sat on for eomo time in silent thought. ! “It was him, I knew him at once,” she said to herself. “Ho couldn’t deceive mo. I wonder whore Mr.-Forth met him. I will find out. I must hold my tongue for a while—the time must come—T canno* stay here. I shall coax Mrs. Oholmoi.de ley to leave as soon as we can and get bpek to England, and yet ” ? (TO MK COIfTlNUEU.) A auld minister, who had almost “preached his kirk toom,” one day ac costed the village Crispin and enquired, “ How’s trade, John?” No’ up to macklo when you’re in the old kirk people, sir,” answered John surlily. “ I tell ye that ye’re takin’ the, vera moat out o’ nia wame, sir !” “ How do account for that. John ?” asked the reverend gentleman in in tones of surprise. The shoemaker replied, “ I’ll suno tell ye hoo to account for’t, The meonistor that was hero afore yo brochfc ilka man, wummin and bairn to to ,tho kirk ; noo, on Sabbaths, every yin stnps awa, exceptin’ aboot a score. Wool, air, noo folk canna wear oot the soils of thoir Lord’s Day boots, and that’s a hantlo o’silver oot o’ inn pooch. I hue plcmiy o’ muoklo tuokoby things to men’, hit ma fine and fancy wark, sic ai solin’ and pawohin’ Sunday Wolin’tons, has gane to the bad sin’ o’er yo to ok to the preaohin’; and sao lang as yo bide whaur yo are, my will be fair ruined.”