|Chapter Number||III (CONTINUED)|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
(?ron Eagllib, Amcrlena, aad otli.r Perlodlo&li.)
Lady Elaine looked up, light dawning upon her.
" Arley," she said, with lips that trembled with surprised feeling, " that was not fair in you. I be- lieved you in earnest, that you were intentionally depreciating Wil, while you were only laying a trap for me. If I had not learned to love you so well during the three weeks that wa have spent together, and to trust you so entirely, I believe I should And it hard to forgive you."
Arley opened a pair of innocent, wonder-wide eyes, " A trap, my dearest t How could you imagine anything so dreadful of m» aad then she broke into another sweet, silvery laugh, as she Baw from _ Lady Elaine's reproachful glance that her little
Stratagem was discovered,
She was determined to discover whether Wil Ham- ilton's cause was btpelesB or not, and if it was, to Bllow things to take theirpwn course; if Hot she meant to assist him in every possible way to attain the desire of his heart.
She knew well enough now that Lady Elaine - loved him, while Wil worshipped her, and if it was
in the power oE human ingenuity to make their course of true love run smsoth she would accomplish
" I will torment the life ont of that handsome bar- rister rather than allow him to come between these two," she thought as she noted how the love-light still lingered in the eyes of her companion, despite the reproachful glance bent upon her.
She arose, and throwing one white, rounded arm about her neck, bent and kiued her again,
" You will forgive me, man ami, I know, for I love you very, very dearly, and"-with an arch glance
Into those lovely beautiful eye«-" I wish Wil Ham- j
ilton his full share of happineBS in this life."
Then, without waiting tor an answer, eke flitted from the room.
" How foolish I am," murmured Lady Elaine as the door closed after her friend. " Here I have been Striving in every way to hide my secret during the last three weeks, and I fear I have done nothing but wear my heart upe» my sleeve ; and now that sly Arley has, after all, almost trapped me into a con- fession, or at least a betrayal of my feelings. If I was only sure," she went on, with burning cheeks, "that I have not been nnmaidenly before him, I should not mind so much, for Arley is too true and honourable even to hint at any discovery that she any imagine she bas male."
But there was a softer light in the beautiful girl's eye, a sweeter smile upon her lips, and a deeper tint upon her cheek than usual, when she went down to
Lady Hamilton was to give a large dinner-party that evening to a number of her friends in the county, aud there were aleo several distinguished people from London invited, . «^«rx
L&dy Elaine WAS very glad of the presence of these visitors, for they would serve to shield her somewhat from observation, and ehe was too conscious of her recently discovered secret to wish to be at all con- spicuous.
She had chosen for the occasion a dress of pure white, of some soft, gauzy material, and unrelieved by an atom of color eave a cluster of dark, waxen green leaves, which she has fastened at her throat with a single diamond, that glittered among them like a huge drop of dew.
"Mademeiselleis perfect!" her maid had cried, when her toilet was completed ; " there will be BO one below one-half so lovely."
" Hush, Nanette 1 you must not flatter me," her mistress said, with a reproving smile, "I know," she added, "that you have taken a great deal of pains with my dress, and it is beautiful-it pleases me very much ; but I have no doubt there will be far richer toilets here to-night than mine."
"There will be ne one so lovely D persisted Nan ette, while her admiring eyes rested affectionately upon that fair face and symmetrical figure reflected in the full-length mirror.
It was a little late when she entered the drawing Zoom; she had waited purposely, hoping to be able to slip in among the crowd vary quickly and thus escape observation.
But, as it happened, this brought upon her the very thing that she bad wished to avoid.
As the curtains to one of the arches of the draw- ing-room parted to admit the peerless girl, there was a momentary hush, and almost every eye was fixed upon her with surprise and admiration, for ehe made an entrancing picture there in her white trailing robes against the warm, rich crimson of
But alter the first heart-throb of diBmay, as she saw the sea of faces turned toward her, she grew calm, and with lithe, graceful step she passed to the side of Annie Hamilton, who was assisting her mother to do the honors of the occasion.
WH, Bt the opposite side of the room, beholding
her, felt his haart bound within him with mingled J
exultation and »ain-exultation over her surpassing loveliness, and pain leBt something Bhould cause him to fail to win her.
<< She is like a stately Calla in her baauty ; but her spirit, so sweet and pure, ia like the fragrance of the water-lily," ho breathed, while an almost unconquer- able desire possessed bim to clasp her to him and bear her away from the Bight and sound of every one, and pour forth the burning love that was con-
« Who ia that beautiful girl P" everybody asked ; and they wero greatly surprised on being toli that she was Bir Anthony's ward and the daugther of the Duke of Mordaunt, and then eagerly pressed forward fftt inttoduetrow.
" Jer-i-cho I" ejtcalatsd a young sprig of nobility,
who waa honouring the occasion with his presence, i " won't ehe make a sensation when she comes out P Twenty thousand a year 1 Ah, won't there be a flut- tering among the birds of prey when that bit of news becomes known ?" and he immediately began to flutter his own feathers, and to edge toward the object of his admiration, to be presented.
Philip Psxton flushed to hiB very brow as he too
watched her eater the room.
" I never dreamed that any one could be so ex. quisitively lovely," he said. " She is not so sprightly and entertaining as the Wentworth Rose," be added, his eye wandering to where Arley stood, and who was also in. white-simple white tolle, with dashes of scarlet verbenas in ita graceful drapery, and a bunch of them in her white gloved hands.
She was as bright and cheery as some happy bird and he sighed as he looked at her.
" I wish shs had more of Arley's spirit and wit," he continued, hiB glance returning to Lady Elaine ; " but," as be cauçht sight of that costly glittering gem among the green leaves-it was one of the Mor daunt diamonds, of which there were many and worth a fortune in thsmielvea-" but I shall marry
her if I can."
As it happened, it fell to him to take her out to dinner, and owing to the excitement of the occasion, and something, perhaps, to the admiration which she L"J .«oUad. >.nd of which »he could not fail to be ConBCioua, she was unusually DHgiii una ouimatod.
She chatted and laughed almost as freely and mer- rily as Arley herself, who was bewitching the son of an earl es fast as ever she could ; though she bad frowned threateningly and cast a look of commisera- tion at poor Wil when she saw Lady Elaine upoa Philip Paxton's arm, while he, Wil, had to take had to take down a spinster of forty, who wort»
corkscrew curls, and was otherwise^frightful in a
toilet of mulberry and green.
The dinner was, apparently, a brilliant success, and the guests in their happiest humour.
No one, eave Arley, perhaps, suspected the pain and passion that were raging in the breast of 8ir Anthony's heir, while he covertly watched his love glow nnd brighten in the presence of her attendant, as he had never seen her do before,
"Shall I learn to httte my deareBt friend?" he fiercely asked himself, as he saw him bend almost fondly toward his companion and whisper words which brought a more vitid colour to her Cheek, and make her droop her white lids in maidenly confu-
He grew so furiously jealous and disturbed that as soon as the ladies had withdrawn, he excused him- self from the table and stole away out of the house, and out of the sound of the mirth and laughter of the gay company.
He wanted to be alone awhile ; he needed to calm his excited nerves and try and exorcise, if possible, the spirit ef evil that was rising up and talking possession of him.
He wandered down to the lake, his head bared to the cool evening breeze, for his brow was hot and feverish ; and here loosing his wherry, be leaped into it and pushed off from the shore for a hard row in
the moonli ht.