|Chapter Title||"I WILL WIN YOU YET."|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
" i WILL WIN rou ÏET."
An hour after, Wil returned comparatively calm and in a much more rational frame of mind. He had worked off a goa J. deal of his internal wickedness at the oars, and the season of meditation bad done him good. He saw how unreasonable he had been to indulge in such passionate jealousy and anger ; for if Lady Elaine preferred Philip Paxton'« society to hie own, and was attracted toward him, no power on earth could help it, and he must try to make the
beBt of it.
The night was supremely beautiful,and as he had glided over the smooth bosom of the lake, a sort of peace had fallen upon him ; the soft light of the moon, as it glimmered through the net-work of foliage overhanging the water, had seemed to quiet the tumult that was raging within him, and charm away those disagreeable sensations of hatted and revenge which for the time had taken auch vio- lent possession of bim.
" I love her, and t am going to try to win her," he said, with a sudden resolute uplifting of bis hand, soma head, as his boat went skimming over tbe waters and he had seriously thought the matter all over. " If I can do it fairly and honorably, I shall be the happiest man in the world ; if I cannot win her-if she cannot love me and will not be my wife -if her heart turns te Paxton"-and his fine lips grew pale and unsteady at the thought-" I have no right to atand in his way, evan though I feel that be is not treating ma honestly after the confidence which I have given him."
" I will go back ; and I will not sulk and pout like an overgrown schoolboy, but I will go and meet my
fate like a man."
And ai he reasoned in his sensible, straightforward fashion, he tamed his wherry about and bogan to row back to put his resolution into execution,
As he did sa, the moonlight fell upon something white just at his side.
He btnt to look. It was a water-lily, its waxen face turned up to him, beaming at him from the dark waters like a star of hope and promise.
He uttered a cry of pleased surprise as ha put out his hand and carefully plucked it.
" What strange freak of nature is this, that I find a water-lily in full bloom in the night P" ho said.
He hold it out into the light to examine it more closely, and, as far as be could soe, It was a most perfect and beautiful flower.
"Shall I aocept the finding of this as a good omentf Is it a blossom of promise to me P" he asked, his face brightening as he contsmplatod it. "I will hop» so, st least, as long as thora is anything to hope for. I will take it home to her, for she loves the lilies so, my peerless Lily of Merdaunt."
He laid it carefully da the seat beside him, and rowing swiftly and with a lightened haart, he was soon back again at Hazelmere.
The lily he found to be without a blemish ; every petal and stamen was as perfect as if it had been
molded from wax.
Be nut it into water, feeling almost as If it was a sacred thing, and as if, somehow, something of his future waal or woe might be hinged upon lb
His first thought as he re-entered the drawing room was of Lady Elaine.
She was standing near a window, which opened upon the porch where she had paced with Philip Paxton on the night of his arrival, and she was, for
the moment alone.
He approached her, and when she saw him she gave him a smile of welcome.
" Where have you been, triant, all this time ?" she
His heart loaped at the words.
She bad missed him, then, consequently her at- tention could not have been very deeply absorbed by any one else.
" I did not feel quite right after dinner, and I went out upon the lake for a yow," he answered
¥ Are you ill P" she inquired, a shadoof anxiety creeping into her lovely eyes ; and again his heart
thrilled with a strange, sweet delight. I
"No; I am quite well." Then, not caring to pur- sue that subject, he said :
" But I have found something for you-something strange and beautiful. Will you come with me and let me show it to youf
" Something strange and beautiful ?" she repeated, smiling. " Of course I will come. I could not en- dure the curiosity which you have aroused in me."
She leid her hand lightly on his arm, and he led her to a little anteroom where he had left his lily in
He bad put it into a tall, slender vase of out glass and as he led her up to it, she exclaimed,
" Where did you get it f I never saw anything more perfect or beautiful."
She took the vase in her white gloved hands and bent over it, her face full of appreciation and delight,
" I found it on the lake," Wil answered, thinking how like to the spotless flower ehe was herself, in her white robes, with that simple cluster of green
leaves at her broat.
" What-to-night I I thought water-lillies always closed at night," she cried.
" So they do ; but some strange freak of nature has kept this one open. Perhaps he added, with a smile, " Some tiny invisible fairy or water-nymph has crept into it and gone to sleep, and that is what
keeps it open."
" What a pretty fancy, Wil," Lady Elaine began, and then stopped suddenly, whiie a beautiful blush
suffused her face,
She had never spoken his name qnite like this be- fore, at least not in his presence, and again every nerve within hin thrilled with joy.
" Do you know," she added quickly, as if to cover ker confusion, " what I mean to do with it P The sisters at the convent taught me the art of preserving flowers, and I shall attend to this the first thing
to-morrow morning. I shall keep it always," she asserted then fearing she had said too much, she added, with drooping lashes, " for it is too beautiful
to be allowed to fade."
Wil caught his breath ; those shyly drooping lids: the fluctuating colour in that velvet cheek, were very enticing signs to him.
" Would you care enough about it to take all that trouble ?" he asked, in a low, eager voice, his whole soul in bis eyes.
Before she could reply, a voice behind them said " Oh here you are, Wil, Your mother wants you a moment," and Sir Anthony pepped his head most inopportunely in upen upon the almost dtclared
Then seeing the flower that Lady Elaine WBB holding in her hands, and being quite an enthusiastic botanist, he came forward to examine the night blooming lily, while Wil, perceiving that his oppor- tunity was lost for that time, went to ascertain what
his mother wanted.
But his heart was lighter than it had been for many days; something in hie darling's manner, the involuntary speaking of his name in that familiar way, her assertion that ehe should always keep his lily, made him feel as if his cause was not altogether hopeless.
Sir Anthony stopped only a moment or two after bis son left them, then be, too, went back to his guests, leaving his fair ward alone.
As he disappeared, she lifted the glittering vase which she still held, end laid her lips tenderly, caress- ingly, against that waxen flower, resting like a white dove upon its edge.
Could an artist have painted her as she looked then, his fame would have been established for all time, for a fairer picture mortal eye never gazed up-
The little room, with its rich crimson hangings the walls paneled with embossed gold, and adorned with choice paintings, with here and there a gleam- ing statuette, the glittering chandelier above shed- ding its radiance over all, and the young girl, in her pure white dress, her face slightly flushed, her scar- let lips tremulous with some inward «motion, look- ing tenderly down upon the perfect flower in its crystal cup-ah, it was a vision which once seen would be stamped upon memory's page forever.
Philip Paxton, standing unobserved in the door- way, saw it and held his breath, almost fearing that if he should move the spell would be dissolved and she would suddenly vanish like some sweet spirit
from hi« sight.
He had seen Wil approach and lead her from the drawing-room while he was talking with Lady Mary Elgin, to whom he had just been Introduced, and he instantly became alarmed leBt something should occur to balk bis plans.
As soon as he could do so, he excused himself from his companion and followed them from the
Passing through the hall he saw Wil emerge from the little ante-room alone, and instantly breathed freer. Surely no harm could have been done in so
short a time.
A moment or two later Sir Anthony followed hifl son, and believing that Lady Blaine was now there alone, Philip, with a feeling of exultation that he should find a clear field, stele forward, peeped within the room, and saw the picture that has been de-
" Now or never 1" he said to himself, yet notwith- standing his anxiety, to know his fate, he waa loth to disturb that delightful vision.
But a slight movement on his part made Lady Blaine turn quickly, and then she blnshed a vivid soarlet as she wondered if Mr. Paxton had seen the tender caress which she had bestowed upon her lily. 1 He had seen her bending over it but not having witnessed Wil'e presentation, he had imagined her to be merely inhaling its fragrance, and now observ- ing her blush, he fondly believed that his unexpected presence alone had caused it.
He instantly wont forward to har side with a
" You have something vary pretty there," he said. " Tes," she said, recovering her self-possession, " it is a lily which has bloomed, or remained In blossom, in the evening. Mr. Hamilton found it on the lake. Did you ever see anything so perfect and beautiful P"
She held the vase toward him as he spoks.
He took it from her and looked at the flower, but with a preoccupied air.
Then he put it down upon the table ntar which they were standing, and turning to her again, said, in a deep, intense tone, while an eager, passionate fire burned in his eyas :
" It is neither so perfect nor beautiful as its name 8ake, the Lily of Mordaunt, Lady Blaine, you must know what I want to say to you. I love yon with my whole soul, and I want to win you for my wife. I do not mean to speak to you of this to soon, I meant to woo you gradually ; but when I saw you in here alone in your trandscendent loveliness, I was impelled to come and tell you of my love. I was afraid to wait. I was afraid that I should lose you. and my impatient heart could not brook delay, My darling, tell me that I may wear tho Lily of Mordaunt forever on my heart. Tell me that yon will love me, and give me the right to call you by ths sweet- est of all names-my wife./
He bad spoken BO rapidly that she could find no opportunity to, interrupt him, though her very soul had shrank appalled as she listened to his passionate avowal, for such it seemed to her, since his voice shook, and he was trembling with emotion and ñá- pense when he concluded.
She had grown euddenly soarlet.at his confession, then as she realized the pain tbat ehe must inflict upon him she became as white as her snowy drees,
" Mr. Paxton," she began, sorrowfully, when he paused, " I am deeply pained that you should have said this to me. If I had once surmised that you were beginning to cherish feelings such as you have just confessed, I should have found some way to show you bow impossible it would be for me to be your
" Oh ! do not say that," Philip Pexton interrupted in a tone of passionate entreaty,
" I must, Mr. Paxton or else be guilty of doing both you and myself en irreparable injury.
She spoke with such positivenesB, and so calmly that it angered him.
Perhaps the Lady Elaine Warburton would not condescend to merry a young barrister, however re- spectable he might be. Perhaps she desires to se- cure another title when she takes upon herself the bonds of matrimony," he said, sarcastic Uly, while a burning flush surged up and lost itself beneath the masses of dark hair which lay above his forehead.
Bhe drew herself up with a slight gesture of haughtiness at this implication, but she answered as gently BB before:
" If I had given my heart up to a man whom I believed to be worthy, I should marry him without regard to his profession or position in life."
" Am I not worthy, then ? Wherein do I lack ? Teach me how to be worthy of yon, and I will move the world to accomplish my object," he cried, assum- ing an humble tone.
She lifted her eyes to his face and they were full of pity.
" I beg your pardon," she cried, " I had no inten- tion of implying anything like that. I feel that you are worthy of the love of a true-hearted woman, and I esteem you very highly as-a friend-"
He interrupted her with a gesture of repugnance. "I do not want to be your friend," he cried, im- petuously.
" Do you not P" she questioned, in a tone of gentle surprise, a Blight flush tinging her cbeek.
"Oh, I do not mean that," he answered, almost wildly, " but I want more-I want your love-your heart-I want you."
" I can give you neither my love nor myself," Lady Blaine replied, in a low voice, but there waB no mistaking the decision in her tone.
He grew frightfully pale for a moment, and then a ruBh of anger and disappointment dyed all his face again,
" Tell me," be said abruptly, almost rudely, and searching her face with a burning glance, " have you given yourself to another F Do you love some one
She turned upon him a cold, imperious look,
" You have no right to ask me such a question," she said, icily ; but her cheeks were vivid in their
He saw hie mistake instantly.
She was very proud and very sensitive, this peer- less Lily of Mordaunt, and, if he hoped to retain her favor, he saw that he must conduct himself very circumspectly.
"Forgive me," he returned, humbly-he could afford to be very humble, if by any means he could win that twenty thousand a year ; " I had no right to ask it, but I em nearly wild with the pain of my disappointment. Tell me, pleoBe, that you forgive
H« held out his hand appealingly as he ceased, speaking, and with her heart full of pity for him and believing that he was sincere, she laid her own within it with a frank, forgiving smile.
" You are freely forgiven," she said sweetly.
His fingers closed over here in an almost spas-
" Thank you," he murmered, tenderly ; then be added : " But I would give very much to know if thia hand is pledged to another."
She quickly withdrew it, a curl of scorn replacing the smile on her lips.
"Mr.Paxton forgets himself often to-night,"ehe said, haughtily ; then added, with sudden impulse, "andyet if it can be of any consequence to him to know the fact of the case, I can tell him that-it is
His face cleared in an instant ; his heart leaped with exultation ; the beautiful girl with her immense
fortune might yet be his if this was true ; at all events he would leave no stone unturned to accomp- lish his purpose.
He bent toward her with a brilliant smile, on eager look in his handsome eyes.
" Then I do not despair," he said, softly ; " I will win you yet."
And, without giving her an opportunitey to reply, he turned abruptly and left her.