Chapter 18943801

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Chapter NumberXXV (CONTINUED)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18943801
Full Date1885-01-24
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count1955
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

FÏOTION.

(from EnRllih, American, and ulu.r Periodical!.)

j_L^^HiHS"3T.

CHAPTER XXV.-{Continued.)

They took rooms nt the Langham, for they all shrank from ocsupying their town house, since every room contained eo much to remind them of poor, loat Wil end would only Eerve to opun their wounds

afrish.

One flay Lndy Hamilton sad Lady Elaine drove cu to Kew Girdens, just fnr the ride, for they could not give up thuii customary esercise even though tbey were in that deiife city.

On their return, Lsdy Hamilton pnssed into the hotel, while Lady EUine rc-muined hohind to Bettie

' ^ith their driver.

It took some littlo time to make the cbange.and to arrange for another dine the following day ; but at length it was all settled, and Lady Elaine turned to follow her companion.

Just as ehe entered the vestibule DOO encountered a gentleman, but would bave passed him unnoticed, if he had not raised his bat and bowed low to her.

Then Elie raised ber eyes, vrith an inquiring look and saw Philip Poxton gazing down upon her,

" Mr, Paxton 1" Hha cried, in surprise, while her face lighted with pleasure ; for Bhe thought, as he had returned, Arley of course lind come with him, and their former friendship would be renewed,

He, however, mistook both her look and tone as indicating bec pleasure at seeing him, and holding out his band, he eructad her most cordially.

She seemed more lovely than evor to him, though her face was very sad, and worn, and pale, while of Course her deep mourning added to the' delicacy of her complexion,

He had not thought of seting her in black, and it gave him an uncomfortable sensation ; it reminded him unpleasantly of Wil, and his treachery towards him, end it is i.e?er agreeable to bo obliged to recall

one's own meanness.

" When did you return ?" Lady Elaine inquired, reading bis fsico with cle^r, keon eyes, and finding there something to dislike more than ever.

" Last week," bo answered. " And Arley-your wifo ?"

*' I have no wife," he returned, briefly, aEd with darkening face.

"Mr Paxton! Surely Arley has not died, and the sad news been kept from me 1" cried the fair girl in a breathless tone, and putting out her hand to Steady herself against the wall.

" No, ebe is living, and ia well-or was, the last I knew," Philip said, while his own lips were not quite Steady, " but-Lady Elaine, there has been a-a separation."

His companion gave bim another glance of surprise mingled with horror.

She was too deeply movod-too astounded

speak oso word in reply to this dreadful intelligence.

"You look surprised," Philip said, feeling vt>ry uncomfortable bunealh those searching blue eye», " and I do not wonder ; we havo had a sad time aince leaving England, but-I do not like to speak of it here," he added, fcluncing around as if he feared that some one inigbt overhear them. " May I come and tell you about it this evening ?''

" Yes, you may come," Lady Eltiïno returned, and then with a dazed, wondering look on her fair [ace, Bhe bowed, left him, and went up to her room.

" WhatcanitmeBn, and where is my poor Arley P" she asked herself, over and over again.

PhilipPaston was well pleased with the permission she had given him. Sho had granted it unhesita- tingly, and he accepted it aa a good omen, while the «"pression of pleasure wiih which she had greeted him, lingered in hid memory all day.

He had learnt almost immediately open his re ' turn, that the Ilnmiltons wero at tha Langham, and Lady Elaine with them, aDd he had haunted tho place every day, hoping fco encounter Sir Anthony, . end get an invitation to cull, as he had not quite courage sufficient to do so without one.

He presented himself at t'aoir door on this even- ing as early OB etiquette would permit, and was delighted to find Lady Elaine alone,

A threat Borrow hits tom« to j ou sioee 1 l«8t saw yon," heeaii, ta be greetod her, and holding her hand a moment longer th n waa necesaarj, while he looked down u to her eyes with an expresión of tender respect and sympathy.

She drew back fnm hi ID, lines of pam settling about her tweet mouth, ber fice growing almost ghastly with the effort she made for composure, bhe m»-rbl> bowed he* head in token of assent, hor (.rief WBB still too fresh to admit to her soeaking of Wil vitb Bny dugreaof cilmnesa, while sha fell that she could Dot discues har sorrow with him under any ciroumstanc.B.

bbe motioned bim to a seat, and then 6at down

near him

Where did you leave Arlej B" she asked, anxious

to l«arn the fute of ber friend

' I did not leave her at all-she left ma at Madrid» Spsin, and I have not seen her since," be answered, with compreeeed lips

Lady Elaine liftei ber bright bead with a quick, al- most impatient motion at ibis, and bent a keen, inquiring glance upon him, ns if to warn bim that she did not me?n to believe an} thing wrong of her frietTd if 6b» could help it.

" Arley and I were never suited to each other," Philip resumed, with a regretful (?) sigb, " and it was a great mistake thut we wore ever married Wo both found that out before a month had passed "

" Why did Arley leave you^" L.dj Elaine, aeked with those penetrating ejes still fixed upon his

lace

It was exceeding uncomfortable, he wished she would not look at him so, it made it very difficult for him to tell his story in the way ho had planned to.

" Becaa»e"- he hesitated as if painted a»d em barrased to be obliged to speok of Arley in any such way, " because of mj poterty. Perhaps jou do not know that I lott very heavily about the time of our mar-iage, but euch is the fact, and that misfortune together with tbe IOSB of Arley's money, made things very awkward for me. Of course, crippled as I was, I could not »fiord to give her all the luxuries to which she had bejn accustomed, nor gratify every extravagant whim. Wa had some words about it in Pans fust, and matters grew woree and worse until they finally reached a climax in Madrid.

There she utterly refused to live with me in the way we were living, and left ma in a passion."

Still Lady Elaine's clear eye3 rested upon his facef as if she doubted his false tongue and longed to read the hidden secrets of his heart.

"Pray howe uld such a step improve her Condi, tion, if she had no means of her own to live upon ?"

she asked

" You are her friend. I do not like to pain you by talking against h»r, especially when ehe ia absent and cannot defend herself," Phillp returned, with an op pearance of honor, though be averted his guilty eyes and a dark flush mounted to his brow. "Perhaps," he added, after a pause, " I had better leave all ex- planations until she returns-if she ever do»s I can only say that Bbe conducted herself in Euch a manner that I felt justified in applj ing to the court of Madrid

for a divorce "

" Mr.Poxton ' did you do that P 'Lady Elaine esked her eyes beginning to flash,

" I did," be replied firmly, " and Arley, I pfterward ("íscoversd, left Madrid the very day that the court rendered ita verdict, and in company with a young Englishman who bad acted as her companion in the case, and with whom she was upon terms ef inti macy"

"But what did she do that you should feel justi- fied la adopting such extreme meaBuroa ?" Lady Elaine persisted in a constrained tone, while a smal]

red spot began to burn upen either cheek.

" She deserted me in the first place, and then upon watching her I discovered that she made appoint- ments with a pereon in Madrid, and received money from him-you a3ked how she procured means for her support-while her intimacy with this English- man capped the climax,"

Lady Elaine arose ; she would listen to nothing

more.

"Mr, Paxton," she began, coldly, "I believe I know Alley more intimately than almost anyone else, for a very tender friendship sprang up between us while were at Hazelmere; bat, in spite of your apparently criminating facts, I cannot believe her to be guilty of the wrongs of which you accuse her. I know that Arley was true to the core-that she was puro and honorable in every thought ; I know too, that she loved you, with a deep and tender love, at the time of your marriage-she confessed it to me when I questioned her, fearing for her happi

nog»-~"

"Feiring for her happiness?" interrupted Philip with well assumed surprise, though he knew well enough what she meant.

"íes, after what had passed between you and me," Lady Elaine went on, with burning cheeks, " and then learning of your pecuniary troubles, I could not help attributing an unworthy motive to you when you sought na engagement with Arley so soon. So I questioned her very earnestly, and had she not betrayed so deep and unmistakable an affection for you, I slsould have felt it my duty to tell her of your previous proposals to me, for I loved her too dearly to be wilting that she should be won juit for her money."

"Lady Elaine! surely you cannot mean to imply that I-" Philip began in an indignant tone, but she stoppo i him with a motion of her hand, while her lips curled slightly, as she continued :

"There is an old saying ' that a man ii supposed to be innocent until he is proven guilty.' What you have told me about Arley is dreadful, but it is simply impossible for mo te believe her to be anything save n good and noble woman, without more positive proof than you bring me. Xhe very fact of the stand which she took regarding Ina Wentworth and the fortune which she had always believad to be hers, goes to show how sensitive she was about committing any wrong-how strictly conscientious she was upon every point, and 1 cannot think that she would prove false to her solemn vows to you, Mr, Paxton, I am afraid you huvo done Arley a great wrong by obtaining this divorce."

Philip Paxton'a eyes flashed beneath his drooping

lids,

He had intended to convey the impression, if he could do so, without telling a downriaht falsehood, that he had succeeded in obtaining a divorce, and it seemed that Bhe bad understood it so,

He had been fearfully disappointed and angry at failing in this scheme, and if ever a poor man waa heartily cursed, Sir Charles Herbert had been for his interference, though Philip had no idea who ho "vas.

He had not wisbod to bring the matter into Eng lihh courts on account of the scandnl which it would create, but there was no help for it now, if he desired to be free ; and he had determined to set about it immediately, and while the suit was pending he meant to make the most of his time and win the Lady Elaine if possible, although her attitude toward him, in this his first interview with her, was anytning

bat encouraging.