Chapter 18940482

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleDISAPPOINTMENT.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18940482
Full Date1884-11-22
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count3463
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

FECTIQET.

(Wron KnulUh, Aincrlcnn« and otber Periodical!*)

_A___6ÍLil_3"Y"_

CHAPTER VI.

DISAPPOINTMENT.

"W11 Hamilton «vent directly to his father npon hiB aretnrn with Lady Blame rrom ma ru>oot, ui tola tim that he bad won her for his wife, asking as a mere matter of form-for of course he knew that he eonld make no objections-his sanction to the en- gagement.

It ia needless to say that Sir Anthony received the

news with delight, and offered his heartiest con- j gratulationr.

" It is a fine thing for y«u, W11, my boy, not only to have won so lovely a bride, but with her so mag- nificent a fortune. Lady Elaine's twenty thousand a year, together with your own expectations, will enable you to do about as you like for the remainder of your life," he remarked, rubbing his smooth, plump hands together, with a satisfied smile.

Wil looked up at him and flushed hotly.

"Igive you my word of honor, sir, I never once thought of her money," he said, earnestly.

Sir Anthony laughed.

"Young love forgets a good many things," MB father returned, indulgently, " Nevertheless that does not alter the convenience of the matter. A purse full of gold is something not to be despised at any time."

"I shall settle every pound upon her," Wil Hamil- ton answered, proudly, and looking somewhat dis- turbed, The subject of Lady Elaine's money jarred upon him, somehow. " And it will make no differ- ence with me-it will not change my plana for the future in the least, I am just as ambitious to make a name end position for myself as I have ever been,"

"lam glad to hear that, Wil," Sir Anthony re «ponded, grave'y, and with a look of pride n*d fond- ness at the manly, self-reliant fellow, "for I am am- bitious for you ; you ore my only boy, and I want you to be heard from in the future. I want the name of Hamilton to continue to be honoured for all time. But aside from all pecuniary benefit, I am very much pleased at your prospective marriage with Lady Elaine. As my ward I have admired her excessively -as a daughter I shall love her tenderly."

"Thank you, sir," Wil said, with glowing eyes, and shook his father's hand with a warmth that amused that gentleman greatly.

Thus the matter was settled most happily for nil parties, and the next morning the engagement was announced.

Sir Anthony did it in his happiest manner.

Going up to lady Elaine, as soon as breakfast was over, he took the blushing girl by the hand, and turning towards the household, remarked :

" My friends, I am so proud and happy that I can

sot refrain from asking you to congratulate me upon the prospect of having another daughter in my

house."

Of course the family and friends gathered around IiBdy Elaine immediately, to offer congratulations and express their approbation ; and for a little while there was a perfect babble of good wishes, and re- joicing over the happy young couple.

Philip Paxton alone held aloof from this gay group. He gave ODO look of blank astonishment at the lovely girl, when Sir Anthony made his announcement; then, his face crimson with anger and disappointment lia abruptly turned and left the room.

The next time he met her alone he faced her with a bitter sneer.

" My faith in womenkind has had a severe blow," lie eaid, " you told mo, Lady Elaine, that your hand iras pledged to no one."

"'I simply told Mr. Paxton the truth-I was be- trothed to no one at that tims," she replied, but lift-

ing ber bright head with a haughty gesture, as if to I

warn him that she was not accountable to him for lier actioDS.

"You have made a bad man .£ me," he retorted, .fiercely, a dark look on his handsome face, " you bave changed my whole nature-if I become a har- dened wretch-if my career is marked bjr wrecklees .deeds and hardened acts, yon will know what has caused it, Tou could have molded me like wax with you as the guiding spirit of my life I could have made everything that was good and noble ; but now -I believe I shall go to the devil just as fast as ever I can."

Lady Elaine flushed crimson at this mad and reck- less speech, yet there waa much of pity in her heart for him. If he really loved her, as he professed to, his ?Bufferings must be akin t« Wil's when he believed her lost to him ; but for all that she felt that he had no right to addrees her in the way he had dene.

" Mr. Pexton," she returned, gently, yet with a dignity that awed him, " for all the evil which you may do-in the future no one save yourself will in any way be responsible. You alone will be held ac- countable. No one can regret more than I, the un- fortunate circumstances of night before last, and I would gladly have saved you all the pain of that occasion had I been able to do so : but I bold myself guiltless of any wrong to you, for I never -euspected, until that moment, that you entertained any other feelings save these of friendship toward aie,"

" You must have been bhnd ther," he muttered between his closely shut teeth,

"I think more than I have been blind," she an- swered, with a vivid blush, as she looked back and remembered in bow many ways she must have be- trayed her deep and growing attachment for Wil; and yet be, the most interested of all, hud failed to lead ber heart,

" Perhaps," she added, more gently than she had yet spoken, "we have all been ao absorbed in our own feelings that we have been blind to those of otho». Mr. Paxton, believe me, I would like to continue to regard you as a friend for the sake of

¡W11, and-"

« Wil Hamilton and I can never be friends after ¿his," he cried, excitedly.

\ Lady Elaine's eyes flashed a dangerous light, her li» curled with acorn ot this cowardly speech.

" What were you going to say f" he queried, re- membering that he had interrupted her.

" It does not matter," she returned, with cold dig- nity : " But I think it is hardly the part of a gentle- man to address a lady as you have addressed me to- day. I am in no way accountable to you, nor is Mr. Hamilton, for the compact which exist between us, and for you to assume that we have injured you thereby, is a presumption for which I have no

toleration,"

With these words she turned quickly away and left him to his own uncomfortable reflections.

He ground his teeth savagely as he watched her graceful figure moving swiftly down the walk where tbey had met, and finally vanished into the house.

"lama blundering idiot," he cried, fiercely, " or I should, have held my tongue and not aroused her contempt for me in this manner. I shall have to take a new tack, or I shall make enemies of the whole family, and that I cannot afford to do, for there is no telling how much I may need their in-

fluence in the future,"

That afternoon's mail brought him a letter which made him grow white as death, and swear deep and terrible oaths, though his lipa had never in his life before been guilty of such profanity.

It informed him that a speculation, in which he had been engaged, had burst like a bubble, and the large amount of money which he had put into it was lost-gone forever.

" There go three of the best years ef my life: Curse the luck I" he cried, with exceeding .bitterness, as he crushed the letter in his hands and paced his chamber like a caged animal.

Be luught a fierce battle with himself over this lois for about an hour, and at the end of that time he exclaimed, with suddenresolution ¡J --.v«,

" I vow I'll do it. I am ruined, but if I could only I have gained my point with Lady Elaine it would have made no difference. I should bave not minded my loss at all, Why in time couldn't she have be- stowed her favour upon me rather than upon that fool of a boy, who will have mor.ey enough of his own P But ' half a loaf is better than no bread at all,' as the Baying has it. I'll Bee what headway I can make with the other one. I believe the giri likes me, or could be made to, if I exerted myself a trifle to be agreeable to her, and I'm sure she's an enchant- ing little witch, and my fallen fortunes must be mended in some way. I swear I cannot submit to such arbitary impoverishment, and begin way down at the bottom of the ladder again.''

Evening found Fhilip Paxton as smiling and se- rene as if there were no such things as poverty and disappointment in the world,

There was not a trace of the storm and bitterness, which had raged within him during the day, upon his smooth brow nor in his clear, smiling eyes,

He met Wil as cordially as if he bad not been the instrument of his shattered hopes, and the demons ef jealousy and hatred still raging in his own heart»

"You're in luck, my boy," he said, clappiBg him heartily on the shoulder, as he came upon him stand- ing alone upon the porch. /

Wil looked up in surprise, and searched his friend's face with a keen glance.

" I couldn't offer my congratulations with the crowd this morning," Philip went on ; " but I hope they are none the less acceptable coming at this

honr."

"No," Wil replied, his face lighting up as he grasped his band warmly. "I was only afraid I should not have them at all. I feared that this might-might make feeling between us, for-of eoursel knew-I could not help seeing that you were interested in the same quarter," he concluded,

with some emboraasment.

" I was-I confess it, Wil ; but-but of course only one could win, and the loser must make the best of it, I suppose."

Some one came out and joined them just then, and Wil made no reply ; but he was intensely relieved to find that there would be no rupture between them, and never suspected that the bitterness in Philip's heart bad been covered up from motives of policy.

Later in the evening he passed near where Lady Elanie waa sitting, and stopping an instant before her, he said, in a low tone, intended only for her

ear:

" My presumption was intolerable. I assure your ladyship I shall never ceaee to regret it."

Without waiting for her to reply, he bowed and passed on, while Lady Elaine thought with a glance of pity :

" Poor fellow ! His disappointment made him for get himself."

But a change had come over Arley Wentworth since the engagement of her friend had been an.

nounced.

Hitherto she had always been the first to notice and hail the appearance of Philip Paxton in the drawing room, and nearly always managed, by some pretty pretext or other, to claim his attention, and by her light badinage and repartee, keep bim chained to her Bide until Wil could secure Lady Elaine to him-

self.

When, however, the engagement was announced that morning, she bad shot one furtive, triumphant glance at the discomfited suitor, and then heaved a sigh of relief, which had in it something of pain as

well. .

" Well, my strategic campaign is at an end, and I am glad of it. I don't believe I could have kept it up .much longer," she said j and there was a worn weary expression on her young face, which had any one Been it might have led him to suspect that, perhaps, she had sustained some wounds in the battle herself.

But when Lady Elaine went np stairs, she ran into her raom with a radiant face.

" You darling 1" she cried, winding her arms about her waist, and giving her a delightful little hug. " So you've struck your colors at last 1 Here I have been manoeuvering for this very thing for a longtime and mentally scolding you for your obstinacy all

the while."

"My obstinacy I Why, Arley, dear, what can you mean?" Lady Elaine cried, blushing with confusion, though a happy smile wreathed her red lips.

"Yes your obstinacy. You persisted in keeping aloof from Wil unless he almost forced himself upon you ; and then you would receive the attentions of Mr. Paxton, though it made Wil perfectly wretched, and besides all that, when it was expressly undei stood from the first that he was to be my eäpec'ial cavalier.' Where were your eyes, that you could not see that your handsome lover was nearly distracted with envy aud jealousy?"

" Arley, Arley, do stop that unruly tongue of yourB .r I shall begin to think that some one else ia nearly distracted with envy and jealously," Lady Elaine re- torted, laughing.

Arley Wentworth flushed a very crimson,

"I don't care what anyone thinks now that it is all l settUd between you and Wil," she said, defiantly,

" I knew from the first," she ran on, " that he was over head and ears in love with you, and that his life would be ruined if he lost you, and besides-"

" Besides what, dear?" her companion asked, as she hesitated and looked np at her, archly,

" I knew that you lsved him, and I thought it too

bad that a lovely romance should be spoiled just for I

the want of a little manosuvering ; yes, I will confess j it now," she continued, in reply to Lady Elaine's j

look of surprise, " I bava interposed in every way to ?

help you and Wil along-I pounced upon your would-be knight whenever I saw him approaching you ' with malice aforethought,' and bore him away* a captive, bound with invisible chains ; I assure you you have no idea what an accomplished strategist I have Rrown to be during the last three or four weeks, You were right the other day-I did set a little trap, for you, and you fell into it charmingly, If I had found that you did not love Wil, I should, of course, have allowed matters to go on as they w»uld and Philip Paxton might have won you and welcome if he could. But it is a load off my mind to have the thing settled, and just as it should be, too. I know you will be delightfully happy, for, Wil is a jewel, you're another ; so take my blessing, and joy go go with it forever."

The gay girl had rattled this off with a nervous merriment which was very unnatural, and as soon BB she had finished she gave her companion a hasty kies, and then bounded out of the room without giv- ing her any opportunity to reply.

But if Lady Elaine could have seen her five min- utes later, stretched upon her bed, in an abandon- ment of passionate weeping, she would Lave won- dered more than ever at her mood.

But the Btorm was not of long duration, Arley Wentworth was very, very proud, and she was not long in resenting the weakness that had made her

weep.

She started suddenly np, her face one sheet ot

flame.

"I will not be a fool," she cried, clenching her hands, and lifting her head defiantly, "if I could steep my thoughts in oblivion I would do it. At all events I will not ' wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at'-that is a very new sentiment,'' she added, with a bitter smile, " but it appears to be a very apt quotation for my case."

She went to her basin and dashed the cold water over be flushed face, bathing it until she had re- moved all traces of her recent tears ; then dressing herself with unusual care, she went gayly down to dinner, and was so charming and brilliant that she was the very life of the party throughout the even-

ing.

But she now as studiously avoided Philip Paxton as she had before sought him.

As we know he had resolved to console himself for his disappointment by turning ta her, but when he approached ber that ¿vening, and made acme play- ful remark, she only tossed her head with a gay re- tort and turned to some one else, as if he were the laßt one of whom she ever thought, except when he obtruded himself upon her notice.

This entirely new departure puzzled and piqued bim, and having from the first been really more in. terested in her than Lady Elaine, this avoidance served to make him exert himself to the utmost, to Bee if be ceuld not conquer ber obstinacy and caprice.

He had flattered himself that he should have no difficulty in winning both herself and her fortune, but he began to think now that the conquest might not be so easy after all.

" Miss Wentworth, will you ride with me to-mor row morning P I have arranged with Sir Anthony for the use of his two best saddle-horses."

He made this request just before the company separated for the night, having actually been obliged to run Arley into a corner in order to d« so,

" I could not possibly, Mr. Pexton," the girl an- swered, with quick decision, but her eyes were so bright that they thrilled bim, and he wondered at

the brilliant color in her cheeks.

" May I ask why not P" he inquired .with his bland-

est Bmile.

" I've promised Annie to play the part of a Dorcas with her to-morrow-visit the poor, bind up their broken hearts and heads, if there are any such, feed the hungry, etc., etc," she answered, trying to edge away from him.

" But Arley, I will release you from your premiss if you prefer to ride," said gentle Annie Hamilton, generously, she having overheard Mr. Paxton's re- quest.

" Thanks, Annie, dear, but I could n»t accept a release, much as I usually enjoy a canter over the moors. I never break a promise if Î can avoid it, so Mr. Paxton will be obliged to excuse me."

"But," she added, the next instant, a wicked twinkle in her dark eyes, " here is Miss Simpson, and she is always ready to ride, you know. Suppose you transfer your proposal to her, since I cannot go,"

" Where P" queried Miss Simpson, who, having ap- proached just at this moment, overheard this Utter

remark.

Mr. Paxton will tell you. You will have to excuse me, for I must speak to Lady Hamilton before she retires. Good-night I"

And having accomplished this little piece of mis- chief, Arley made the prettiest courtBey in the world, and then, turning her back upon Philip, tripped to another part of the room.

Mr. Paxton's eyes blazed angrily,

Miss Simpson, aladyoftwenty-eightor thereabouts, was «pending a few days, by invitation, at Hazel- mere, and was by no meanB an attractive companion. She was tall, angular, sallow, and plain to a painful degree. She was also a perfect guy upon horseback, although she affected to be exceedingly fond of riding.

Arley had purposely spoken loud enough for her to hear, consequently Philip was really bound by courteey to " transfer bia proposal to her,"

Miss Simpson simpered, blushed, and accepted the invitation, while he chafed and raved inwardly over the predicament that the mischievous girl had led him into, and devoutly hoped it would rain be- fore morning.

But it did not, and as they rode away from the doorattheappointed hour, Arley Wentworth watched them from behind a curtain in her own room, langh- ing at the figure they made, for Miss Simpson, in a green habit, looked more callow than ever, and sat crooked upon her horse, while Philip's face was black with mortification and anger.

But Arley s- emed strangely capricious, for scarcely had they disappeared from view, when she threw herself into her rocker and gave vent to another tor-

rent of tears.