Chapter 174509608

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Chapter NumberXXI
Chapter TitleDECEPTION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article174509608
Full Date1892-02-27
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count2619
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
article text

CHAPTER XXI.

DECEPTION.

“To weep anti sleep, Dream—Wake —and find one’s only one hope false Is what we can bear, for we do endure it

And bear with Heaven still.” —Bailey. “I am dreadfully sorry, dear, but the cavalier I had especially intended for for you to day has proved unfaithful to his promise to lunch here. I am so sorry, for your sake,” said Mrs. Annoylaye, walking across the room to where Fan chette Marin stood, looking out seaward. “Do you mean Mr. Forth’s friend? Well, I am glad,” said the girl, looking up brightly at her hostess. “I hato him, Mrs, Anneylaye. I do—I hate him. T am so glad he is not here to-day.” Mrs. Anneylaye looked at the girl’s face for a moment as if to read if possible the meaning of such strong language, but could learn nothirg. “Are you, dear ?” she said, softly, half in a surprised, half in a regretful tone, “I am so sorry. I did not know—you see, I. have only known Sir Hubert Army tego so short a time. Then, for your sake, I am glad he is not here.” Mr. Forth, who had been leaning against the mantelpiece, his eyes fixed in admiration on the girl in the window, started in surprise at her words and lis tened ; but the entrance of guests inter rupted the conversation. “So that very erratic young man, Sir Hubert Armytage, has flitted,” said Mrs. Cbolraondeloy to Mr. Forth. “Why don’t you keep him in better order ?” “I am not his keeper, Mrs. Oholmonde loy.” “No, but toll mo was it not a very sudden idea? Ho told mo last nightie should be hejre to-day. Where is ho off to now ? You see, I consider myself privileged to ask questions about him, for wo have been more chan friends for years. I have known him all his life, I may say •—at least, until he left h' s home for a far away country, and was dead to us all end memory dear.” “I believe ho has gone to the country for some shooting. Yes, X fancy is was a sudden whim.” “Well, I must say I consider it very rude of him,” said Mrs. Oholmondeloy, “but he is so sadly altered,” It was a dainty lunch—small and tempting dishes, light but choice wine?, the table decorations simply one parterre of exquisite flowers. a beautiful table,” said Mrs, Cholraondeley to Mrs. Jones. “ I think you Australians quite eclipse us with your dinner-tables. But then, what a charm ing luxury it must be to have profusions of flowers all the year round fresh from your own gardeua In London, I try to have flowers in winter, but the price they cost is simply ruination if one enter tains much and is fond of flowers.” Mr. Forth had been told off as escort to Mdllc. Marin, and as they walked into the dining-room, Darby and Joan fashion, a chill scorned to have come across them, particularly Mr. Forth, who was very silent, for try as lie would ho could not. get over the words he had hoard in the window of the drawing room only a little while ago. He could not rest till be knew what they meant. “For goodness sake say something. Have you lost your tongue ? You are too entertaining, Mr. Forth,” said bis neighbor in a pettish voice, ns she watched a fly near her plate and then killed it with her hand raercilesdy. , -“Yes, I am very rude. What excuse •can I make? I a:n only an emergency pan. you know—an apology, a substitute j&jsrpf lor pitje, vealtty npd pprfec ; tion/* he sojd, sarcastically, taking’a side look at his pari ner, “Title, wealth, aud rubbish,” she said, scornfully, “who do you mean?” “Sir Hubert Armytage. You know him it teems,” ho said bitterly, “I have been suffering.positive agony since I hoard you speak of him as you did. Tell roe, Fauchette, what did you moan ?” . “Oh, 1 lost my heart to Oaptuin Ariuy tngi'lroig years ago—unrequited affection, I wu.s Duly a little girl, he was a grown up roan.” - “Ob, is that all, and then you met last night,” said Mr,, Forth, in a relieved tone. “Ho, I have never seen Sir Hubert ApiDytoge sjncg.I was twelve years old,” ffpiJl lasfc'night in the conservatory?” “I never saw Sir Hubert Armytage last night,” she said, in clear, distinct tones. Could he h'-lievo his cars?—did ho hear aright? Could the girl he admired, ho| loved, hr* worshipped, tell a deliberate lie, coolly, to Jiis,very face? , What cou’d it mean—she could not have forgotten. “She must have some motive for deny-, ing her r torview with Armytage,” thought Fo* tit. . His idol.had fallen. fYes, if you-. ,r number, I met Ayray-'. tftgoilra-vipgUlK* fernery np I ?entered, ’ Ho friust'havo annoyed you in some way—in fact, bo had evidently said something very Insulting by the way you answered him I cpuld not.help hearing your last words.” /.“If you mean your friend ho is beneath , rny ; contempt.” : > « •». i ‘ “How ‘ mysterious you are, Fonohelto,

I do not understand you to-iny. For pity’s sake put me out of suspense. There was a long silence. He waited auxiously. “How long have you known that maul” she said at last, suddenly looking round into his face. “Armytago ?—oh, not many months. He did me a good turn, so we became friends. In a week or two we separate.” “Have you quarrelled?” said she, quickly. “No, wo are on tho best terms; wo cannot do too much for each other,” he said, in a sarcastic tone. “That moans there is no love lost be tween you ” “I have no love to spare,” he said, with a grave look. “Where did you meet him ?’< she said, ignoring his remark. “In Home.” “In Rome ? Wo wore in Borne a year ago - after my father’s death. Ho was killed in a duel.” A light dawned on For h that the duel hud something to do with Sir Hubert Armytago. “My poor father was dead and buried before wo hoard of it. We were travel ling at tho time.” “Is that why you hate Armytago ?” “[ toll you I have nob seen Sir Hubert Armytago since—since I was a child. What do you moan? What has Sir Hubert Armytago to do with my father?” she said. Ho saw his mistake, but recovered him self, saying— “l was going to ask you.” “But what made you suppose such a thins? Do you know anything about my father’s death ?’’ “How should 1 ? When was it?” “J"ust a year ago. Wo never could find out the full particulars.” “A year ago—November. I was in Yorkshire then—staying with some old aunts of mine. Charming old ladies in their way, but awfully whimsical and touchy; positively ropeable when a long frost set in and my hunters nearly atp their heads off' in the worthy old souls’ comfortable stables.” At this moment there is a general move, and in a short time many of the guests hate adjourned to the drawing room, some to the beapb, others to the garden; whilst a group who have jusj; arrived arc standing racquets in hand on the tennis lawn ready for a game, Forth with Mrs. Cholmondcley are in tho drawing room, though bis name has been shouted twice from the toonis lawn whore he is in request ns usual. Mdilo. Marin has disappeared no one knows whither, to Forth’s disappointment. Mrs. Ohohnondeley, who, like most of of her Sf-x, is a lover of bric-a-brac, says kindly— “ Now, ray dear, I am going to look at your pretty things. Whore shall I begin ? I have a weakness for photographs. I shall not want entertaining for an hour, there is so much to look at.” An hour passed. Tennis is in full swing. Pyraroas and Thisbian pairs have returned from their wanderings in search of seques'ered corners and romantic nooks. Twice has Sholto Fort}; bpen on a foraging expedition in search of Fanohetto Marin. Sho has eluded him, and is nowhere to bo found. jForth is angry. There is a mystery about the girl he would like solved. Of one tiling he is certain— he is not her favored swain. There must be some else in spite of her sweet words of encouragement at the ball, and “ If she be not fair to me What care I how fair she be?” he says, stroking his dark moustache fiercely. “I hope mademoiselle will delight us with a song. I hear she sings ex quisitely,” says someone. ‘.‘Oh, certainly, Fanchelte yid be very glad to sing to you. I wonder where she is—playing tennis perhaps.” b‘l saw Mademoiselle Marin near the beach a short time since,siii} Hr. arston. “Thank you,” said Mrs. Cholmondeloy to the speaker. “Mr, Forth, would you mind telling my young friend sho is wanted here—to sing.” “Certainly,” says Forth, springing to his foot and hurrying through the open French windows, only stopping to get his hat, amongst a pile pf coats and hats on tho verandah. He hurries on through the garden, and is soon on the beach looking up and down the long strand as far as the eye could see. Only flights of gulls arc swooping gleefully for some dainty morsel of the finny tribe outside the breakers. A few poor children, with shabby scanty clothing well tacked up, arc, with bare feet, picking their way cautiously over the slippery end seaweed covered rooks searching the holes nnff woed for somo treasures of the deep. That is all that is to bo seen on the sands this bright afternoon. Forth is disappointed at the empty vista before him. A quarter of a mile distant a point of the land Juts out al most into tho sea, shutting out tho view of tho next reach of beach. Ho is angry with himself for his foolish anxiety to see her, but he strides on perservlngly till he has turned the corner of the point of land, half scrub, half rooks, which has for years fought hard to maintain its ground and resist the cruel and bold on slaught of the waves. Forth is gifted with good eyesight, but ho fails to see anything but sand a* and seaweed. Ho is about to return and starch elsewhere when he catches a glimpse of a fjq-’h, of jfi the gC’.ijb bordering tho sn.qce some fjn'avco off, that Ijithortq has escaped his qobio, Ho stands still for a moment and looks ngrin, trying to ponctrqto with his oyi-s the wilderness, of shrubs, but in vain. f'lt’aa woman dress surely,” ho says, trying to see more distinctly, ' Oan it bo,her?” JJo hurries on, half in anxious and sorry expectation, half in hopo that be may find her alone, though it is hardly probable he thinks dolefully. The tido is up, so he must perforce push Ins way through the thick ti tree scrub, and waste of fern and stunted shrubs. It is farther than he , thought. Surely sho would nbt wandpr alone so far away-from tlio .Neqt, but he has a pre sentiment that it is her, and ho feels buoyant with tl;e idea that iVo may And her and her alone, perhaps gathering leafy treasures from tho' wilderness, ho says, knowing her love for flowers. Ho quickens his stops, telling himself of his love for her and how he will confess his doubts of late. His hopeful rovorio is suddenly inter rupted by • voices. A man’s voice is spe iking loudly ahd excitedly, as if' 'secure against intrusion and eaves droppers. Ho is talking French. “ Bah 1 ” says Forth disgusted, “ After all, oply somo French ppofilo piqnjcjng j y}iat q soil I Jt gqoqoi phase j;hong; tho frogs, What is pleasure to thorn is misery and vexation to me.” Ho is about to "retrace ills" steps hurriedly,’ when something in the man’s tones stops; him. Ho listens, thinking somehow Urn voice Is familiar. < ; “I tell you,.mademoiselle, I saw him with: my o.wn oyo s. I took; tho next

train, I followed monsieur into the interior; I could nob bo mistaken. He ,drove a long .way, then ho fastened the rein to the. wheel and got out. I tell you I saw it nil. He walked to a distance, then looked into the hollow of a largo old tree. He had lost something, for half-an-hour he looked about everywhere, hut there was nothing there evidently. What he was looking for had gone or been stolen. No, he did not see mo ; I was on horseback far behind.” “Well, it must come to light soon,” said a voice. Forth recognised at once and shud dered. Ho was no coward or sneak that ho should play so mean a part as lis tener, but he couldn’t help it; ho felt spell bound. Ho daren’t move, he was so fascinated to the spot. “ Well, Gustavo, you know the reward. A small fortune for one in your position, and if you could open that case—” Fo th could stand it no longer, he coughed loudly end waited. Quick stops, as ;if some one was hurrying away, and Fauchette Murin ap peared b-dore Forth, perfectly cool and self-possessed. “You h'TP, Mr. Forth. Are you too hotanising.j see, isn t this beautiful— a rare kind. It does nob look like a wild fern, does.it; perhaps some old gar den has been here in past ages and deserted?” She held up a small fine fern to Forth, who could, see nothing rare or choice in i". He was too angry to speak and too agitated. That a girl who had professed affec tion for him could be holding clandestine meetings wus bad enough in itself, but to arrange meetings with Gustave Lagrange, the id<*a was revolting. What could it all mean, evidently she was in some in trigue with Sir Hubert Armytage. That was clear enough, for was not his name twice mentioned, and was not Gustave aiding and abetting. Bah ! it was sickening. Ho felt too angry to speak, but speak ho must. “ I came in search of you, made moiselle,” lie said coldly. “Did you? how kind. IJow came you to Orid mo 1 How did you know where to look ? ” she said airily, looking coquottishly up at him. “ I saw you in the distance. I kuow it was you by your white dress.” “ Dear n)e, am I the only one in creation that wears white,” she said flippantly. “ I came a nd then I heard voices that I knew,” h® said, looking fixedly at-her. “ Voices! ah, then you found your mistake Yes; I heard voices too, only a party of merrymaking, holiday folk having kiss in the ring over there,” she said, pointing to whore she had been. He was astonished; could sucli deceit and such lies emanate from such a lovely form. It was the death knell of his love and his hope. “ Mrs, Cholmondeley asked me to find you,” he said ; “they are - all hoping to hear you sing. I have been a long half hour looking for you, but at last my per severance has been rewarded, he added in coldly measured tones. Sho looked up in bn open face, trying to read its ex pression, nnt| kn<py that ho wps changed towards her, though she could not divine the true reason. (to he continued.)