|Chapter Number||PART II. VIII|
|Chapter Title||  YOUR WIFE!|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Love and Passion|
(From KaflUh, Am «rl can, and other Furtodlcalt«)
ii- t.«»nT «v votra VRMl"
For a moment perfect consternation reigned throughout that luxuriant drawing-room, and all eyet were upon that elim, girlish Igure facing her mortal enemy with scornful ?no' giiniirin.
. Tiny bad been tent to the drawing-room by Mri. Dalzelle, and had arrived just in time te hear hemlf
traduced ¿nu iniahed.
Penrl retur »-d her glance of icornful contempt, io utterly beside herself with fury, that for a time the could not A ' words. She caught her breath with a fierce gasp at last, panting forth in broken, disjoin-
" Eavesdropper! So you add that acquirement to the list of your accomplishments I"
Tiny trembled violently, but the golden held wai lifted proudly as shs answered, trying hard to be
" You are mistaken, Miss Dalzelle. I was sent to this room by your mother ; I shall withdraw when she bids me-not befor». In the meantime you «bull letract the disgraceful allegations that you have made in regard to me before I leave tbii apartmtnt."
Edith had aiiaen quickly ; the wheeled an eaay Chair forward, and gently forced Tiny to be listed, lhere was a look of determination upo» her fact.
"There!" the said, «iwndedly, "that is sparring enough-quite. Really, Pearl, you owe a little defer- ence to >«, wishes while I am with you; and this young lady I have cüoeea to bt ray future com- panion."
" A "fine «election 1" ueered Pearl ; then ske paused abruptly, awed by ti» ligkt in John Yendeleur's gray
" I think we will waive farther discunion,"he said, quietly-" ai book aa yon have apologisud for your
Ha spoke > a calm, commandinp; tone, which the men who kad served under his cemmand had known low, nrd real z-d tn*i it waa useless to argue with bim when once a nat bad Rone forth
Kow it happened that Pearl Dalzella did not care to offend J 'ii Yandelenr.' Her birthday wai draw- ing nigh, and ehe had good renton to expect « mag- nificent souvenir from his band. So, to the inrpriie of all present, «he turned te Tiny'with a muttered ezouse for "words spoken on the impulse of the moment." Poor Tiny, »var ready to believe that 'which she »ishfd to be true, thunked her gracefully for the condescension, and Pearl relapsed into sulky silence, nur from tbat hour sha was Tiny Kosiiter's implacable enemy-the orawling serpent in the grass which would »ling unHeer and unsuspected.
"Such bad form, Pearl 1" commented Edith ; then adding slyly, uf ter a little pause: "If Mr. Gower were to see you in «ne of your tantrums, I wonder what his opinion would be t Ton will have to turn over a decidedly new leaf, if you expect to win Paul Gower, and be mistress of Gower House and twenty
thousand a year."
"Paul Gower 1" burst impetuously from Tiny's eager lips, forgetting herself altocether at the men- tion of that familiar name. "Paul Gower," who writes books, and-why, Mrs. Vandeleur, I be- lieved him to be a poor man 1"
" Poor t He is one of the richest men in the coun- try. But how in the world did you know him, Tiny P By reading his stories, I suppose ?"
Tiny Rossiter had been trained to despise false- hood and prevarication. Alicia had grown to loathe her own past deceit bo utterly that she bad dedi- cated her life to the work of instilling a love of truth into ber child's nature. Tiny had grown up with an abhorrence of anything that bordered upon false- hood. She was too much a child of nature, unused to white lies or petty prévarication, to be a success in the world of society. A wild, untutored little Bohemian ; a brave, honest nature. Poor Tiny 1 It never occurred to her now to remain silent-that silence which gives consent-trod thus end an un- comfortable discussion by implying that she had no personal acquaintance with Paul Cower; so she glanced into E ith'n f»c« with trusting, innocent eyes, end anevrere ', timidly:
" No, madam ; I met Mr. Gower on the train when I came to New Orleans. He w*s very kind to me rery ; and" (lowly, almost reverently, she spoke) " he saved my life."
" Great heavens !" snapped Pearl, viciously ; " ?? if anyone is going to believe that 1"
Tiny made no answer ; and ere Edith could inter- pose, the door-bell rang, and a visitor was ushered into the drawing-room-Pani Gower himself 1
He had not forgotten Tiny all these weeks. He had called at her father's noua« a few days after they had parted there, only to f nd Mr. and Mrs. Rossiter gone to Europe and the hou-e in the bands of ser- vants. Of course he had believed that Tiny had ac- companied her father, and to find her now in Mrs. Dalzelle'a drawing-room was as sudden and unex- pected as a blow.
As hie eyes fell upon her, after greeting the mem- bers of tbe house"old, he started and turned deadly palo ; then he advanced and held out his hand.
" I am happy to meet you once more, Miss Ros- siter," he said, in a low tone ; but because the tone vas low and indistinct, no one observed the termi- nation of tbe name by which he had addressed her the full name of Rossiter.
A few commonplaces followed : Then Tiny arose, and witb a low-spoken excuse to Mr, Dalzelle. who gat beside her, she left the room and went up to her own chamber. She wanted to be alone ; she wanted to think. There was a strange tightening of the heart-strings-an oppression which made her catch her breath with avague horror, as of an impending trouble which hung over her defenceless head
Outside her window the sunset's- glories lay over everything, flooding the great, cool, spacious grounds aa witb a golden sheen. It vías midwinter, but the air was full of balm ; yet something in the sunlight eeemftd to enter Tiny's heart-something which made
her tremble with a strang« fur.
All at once a tap at her door aroused ber A ser- vant atood upon the threshold.
" If you pleaae, miss," the woman began, " there is a gentleman below in the library who withes to Bee you. Heaiked to see the young lady that's staying here, and says that be ia an old friend."
Wondering greatly, Tiny went down to the library. A man turned to greet hermas she entered the grant purple >.nd silver room- a handsome man, blue-eyed, golden haired : he looked like a Norse god.
She darted forward with a little cry, both hands outstretched, bb the faltered, in bewildered sur- prise :
" Gordon !"
He could not speak at first: he Could only stand here g'zing iato her beautiful eyes.
" Tiny !" be at last cried. " I wat not Bure, bu had reaion to believe that it was you. I saw you at the window; I hnd heard of the young stranger who was itBjiag at Mrs. Dalzelle's ; I ventured tocal! and enquire for you. Ob, my darling, you look like a spirit, you are io pale and thin I"
" I have been very ill," ehe answered, gravely.
He put hie arms »round her, and drew her golden bead down upon hil shoulder.
" Tiny," he whispered, " I have been away, and juit returned home yesterday, My college days are over now, you know. But the first news that I heard when I reached home waa of the death of your mothar. Oh, Tiny, it nearly broke my heart t Look up, my little love, and tell me that you will be my _;*.. .? .noa Ton »«nfl lorne ona to care for you, dear'st, and I have loved yon all my life."
A great shudder swept over her slender frame like a wintry wind, She clung cloie to him, and her bine eyes were full of suffering,
" Don't !" she cried, sharply ; and her tone and that one word cut him like a knife, " Don't say such things, Gordon. I-I cannot be your wife I It was mamma's dying wish that I shold promise never to marry you, and, Gordon, I-I could not refuse her, and-I promised." ,
A groan of despair burst from his white lip».
" Great Heaven !" he panted, " how could, a dying woman be so selfiih F Ah, Tiny, I know the reason why she objected, and indeed I do not blame her. She thought-ahe believad that I am not entitled to-to-"He hesitated, then plunged on boldly.
" It wai an infernal deed that waa done yeera ago, when rey father, Alton Carroll, deceived my mother But, Tiny, liaten-look up, darling, do not cry, I be- lieve tint the marriage wes legal, I have the cer- tificate in my possession, and I am going to Italy at once to search for the reoord of that marriage, and any other clew that may prove my belief. I know that my mother was pure and good. If he deceived her, curse bim ! it was his sin, not hers. All the tame I am going to know. Tiny, when I comijbaok to you with my proof which will clear my name of
the blot upon it, you will be my wife then, will yon |
But the turned away weeping bitterly.
" I cannot-I cannot !" she wailed. " Oh Gordon t a promiie to the dead ought always to be sacred. Do not atk me ; I cannot be your wife."
He released the clinging arms which were still about bim, and strode away from the room and the4 house without another word, and the blackaeas of separation lay between them. But what was the meaning of thii strange thrill in Tiny'« heart-the heart whioh mad to beat for Gordon Carroll ? A keen pang abot through it at the memory of a frank oarneit face and thoughtful grey eyet, and the face of Paul Gower, She wee not by nature inconstant, then what did it mean ?"