|Chapter Number||PART IV. I. (continued.)|
|Chapter Title||THE RAKE'S PROGRESS.|
|Newspaper Title||The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
OUK NOVEL. 7 J
? ? +- - m
0Í0W FIRST FT/BUSHED.]
UNDER THE 6REAT SEAL,
,< i . BT
.' JOSEPH HATTOlf,
Author of "CLTXIB," "BY OBDXB or tu*
CZA»,"'" JOHN NKBDHAM'S. DOUBLE,"
./ " CBUBL LONDON," AC.
CHAPTER I. (continued.) THE HAKE'S PROGRESA.
"Well, so yon have returned, my dear 1 Harry," said the lady of Filby House,
firing him her pin mp, generous hand to
isa. "Ton are more Quixotic than I think if the Western city had not some other attraction for yon beyond steine that poor young clerk of Petherick** off to sea. Perhaps you had an engagement in Bath, eh ?"
"No, I assure you, any dear Libby," said Harry, taking the smiling, anrosist ins: face of Madame betweeaJhia. banda -And kliéiflg 111» White forehead, "pure
friendship, on my honour !"
"Swear by something more reliable, my dear Harry," said the lady ; " honour is for serious, sober men, when they have sown all their wild oats."
M,X)o you say so?" Harry replied, sitting by her side on a rather uncomfort- able,Italian couch, "yon ought to know."
"Tonare a brute, Harry," said Mrs. Longford-West, " s perfect brute. What do yon mean P"
"That you are the most charming of widows and the most generous of friends," said her visitor," and I desire to ask the - most delightful of her eex to accept a
souvenir of that City of the West which is distinguished because it is the neigh- bour ef the Bath where first I had the
honbur of meeting Mrs. Aylesbury
'* Yon are very cruel, Harry ; yonjknow 1 bato the namo of Norton. However I carne to marry into such a family heaven only knows ; I nover should if I had mot dear Longford-West before my young heart was ensnared by Aylesbury
" And to think it is only five years since . all this happened, and I was sowing ay
first bag of wild oats as you wonld say, when I danced that cotillon with yo«."'
".Don't talk of time; it was made for men " who have cot the wit and women who have not the beauty to def v it."
" Tom certainly have both the wit and the beauty, my dear Libby. But here it is-that little souvenir ; they are famous for Eastern gems and antiquités at Bristol they say ; I bought this in College Green -it belonged to au Indian Princess."
He opened a ricly embossed case and drew forth a quaint brooch with a diamond set in pearls."
" There-do not say you are not always in my thoughts, and believe me when I add that 1 could not go to Bath for think- ing of the happy days that can never return."
"My dear Harry," said the lady ten- derly, " you are always the same, swee t irritating, dear good fellow. It is a lovely brooch, thank you so much-and you may
Harry put his arms about the ample waist and took his reward heartily, de- claring that he did not know what Hnder heaven would happen to him if he should lose his dear, dear Libby.
" Ab, Harry, you have said the eame thing to many another woman," was dear Libby'« rejoinder.
"No, on my-well, on my soul," he replied.
"I suppose vou must be forgiven, young men will be young mon ; but one 'day i you will have to settlo down you know-and oh ! dear Harry, what shall I do then P Unless-but there, it is not Leap Year." ~' "¡¡^'"á
" Only one year to wait," said Harry, "But don't let us talk about settling dows ; if I am not called upon to settle ap I shall not mind. Do you remember what the poet says in the tragedy?
'Widows.know so much.*"
" You are a wicked scamp," said Mrs. Longford-West ; "widows are poor, libelled, innocent creatures; their only fault is that they are too tender, too for- bearing .with the men ; self-denial is their only fault. Take poor me for instance. To save my .life I couldn't help confessing that I love you-why should I, when you know it?"
"My dear, good, generous Libby," exclaimed Harry, taking another kiss from the full, liberal lips of the hostess, -and then rising to go.
" Why so soon?" she asked.
"Business, dear,*' he said ; " business .ef importance at Yarmouth; a personal message to the chief magistrate from Sir
" Truly," he replied. "May I ring for IDabba to bring ray horse ?"
'' " Oh, yes, if it must be so," she replied. Harry rung, the horse was ordered and ernest and hostew were about to part when Harry said, " By the way, the girl at the lodge - Jessie ; Mrs. Cooper seems to think that a little civility I paid tho girl has turned her head-the truth is-"
" Only a little civility ?" remarked Mrs. Longford-West with a strong note of interrogation.
"My dear Libby, now that is unkind you know that I like gardening and that your man Dnnn has no rival as a florist. I am sure Sir Anthony would give him any wages if be were free, which of course he never will be as long as his mistress laves flowers, and he glories in making Filby House the paradise it should he with such an Eve-I mean such a goddnss."
" Now I know there is something wrong Harry; you are paying compliments for ihe mere sake of talking ; what is it ?"
" Well, between ourselves, that is exact- ly what I asked Mrs. Cooper, who desired a few words with me as I came in ; and all I could gather was that she wished mo not to look in at the lodge any more. I hate mysteries, as you know, so I thought I would mention it ; one gets the reputa- tion of being a gallant, however unworthy one is of the title-a Lovelace, as an old fool of a guardian once called me in the Park-and it is all over with a fellow. Ah
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well, one. dey as yon say the oats will all hive been sown ;, meanwhile, dearest 'Lin^.'eiw'r^w^'if'-:..'-'.! '-"-'
. ^ The reprobate;" aaidMrs. Longford-" Weet, "the scamp, the prodigal! Oh, yow goose, Libby Longford-West-you idiot,yon foolish Clarissa! Yon cannot help loving him; they may indeed truly say that the first sigh of love is the last
HE CALLED M LOVE.
'. It was a glorious day in September the, roads hedged with hips and haughs and gay with browning leaves. The sky was bright, the wind was fresh. . Sports- men were in the stubbles and the turnips. The crack of their guns was heard afar, and the light whiffs of smoke from their burnt powder marked the occasional groups of gunners following the poor, brown-coated partridge. Harry was. in high spirits. He might have been riding forth on some-right worthy mission, so merry was he, talking to his horse, sing- ing snatches of old ballads, laughing now and then, and returning the greetings of passers-by with a bright, cheerfnl face that more than one mischievous wench turned round to look upon, but never un- noticed by the distinguished looking yuujjj* horsemanr---.__---^-r-rr:- _>
"Ti not walk'd in that garfea,
The past of half-an-bonr,
When there I saw two pretty inaijs,
Sitting under a shady bower. . The first waa lovely Nancy,
Se beautiful and fair,
The other wai a virgin, >
Who did the laerel wear.
He trolled out Lias Webb's favourite
song in a jovial merry. way, and later it pleased his mood to chaunt a snatch of "The Miller of the Dee," giving more particularly foil emphasis to " Idearé far nobody, and nobody cares for me."
- The trot of nia horse suited the measure of the. rhyme, and the cheeriness of the day was in harmony with the song.
" A dare-devil," said the toll-gate man to a carter, who made way for the young squire, " None more so, I've heard say," was the carter's response;, and Harry, pulling up his horse to gather a sprig of honeysuckle, which he stuck into his button-hole, toasted the women, as Charles toasted them in »Sheridan's famous comedy
" Here's to the maiden of baebfni fifteen,
Here's t:» the widow of fifty ; '
Here's to the flanntinf- extravagant qrfeau,.
And here's to the housewife that's thrifty. He was encauraging his low ambition; the ambition of the gallant, the libertine, the deceiver of women. His best, impulses presenting themselves in opposition now! and then, he beat ribald songs or started selfish thoughts to keep lust and passion in the van. Ho was like a savage on the war-pafh beating his tom-tom and'shout-
ing his war-cry. He regarded women with j but little more consideration than the
sportsman he had passed regarded part-.; ridges.. Both werergarae to his mind, and
hid mind was common in those days among j
bucks and dandies. Such men counted; their conquests ah the North American Indian counted his scalps. There are similar creatures walking about like
honest men in these days' and will be to j the end of time; for God makes such] things, nnle9s it is as Mirian suggested j in the poem, that "the devil slavers them so excellently that we come to donbt who's strongest, He who makes or he who mars." ix ./:
V It is hardly conceivable that Harry Barkstead, fresh from seeing his friend off on a long sea journey and charged with sweet and tender messages to the .girl who was pledged to be David Keith's wife, could contemplate the villainy that Mephistbpheles instigated in Faustr a villainy indeed a thousand times blacker, and yet a villainy not altogether inspired of the devil or Bárkstead's own depraved mind, but half inspired by the girl her- self ; half encouraged by her coquetry, her vanity of conquest, her ambition to be admired, her love of dress, and her con cionsness of physical charms calculated to attract and therefore the more necessary to be guarded, the more blessed to have for the bestowal upon a true end pure
He called at Hartley's Bow, having promised David that he Would do so. It would please Miss Mumford, the boy had said, and Mildred Hope would be the happier for his courtesy ; they wonld also be proud to See him. Ohyesha called. They Were both there, Mildred and Sally, both looking equally sad. . He cheered them np with good news, told them of the fine ship David had been lucky enough to sail in, spoke of his comfortable berth, and made some sentimental remark about the; ship's name that quite took Mildred Hope who felt for a moment in her heart -great heart in a small body-that after all Mr. Barkstead might not be so oalloas as she had feared. The " Morning Star !" Yes it was a name of happy omen Harry 'repeated; he hoped Miss Hope wonld forgive him for quoting a poet, who was not in religious circles but who really was.
not wholly bad ; it is from the. " Giaour." -,
" She was a foam of life and Kght, That seen became a part of sight,
And rose, whene'er I turned mine eye, The morning star of Mercury."
" Yon don't read Byron, of course, Miss Hope," he 'went on; "1 suppose Mr. Crabbe is more to your liking?'!
" I don't find time to read much," said Mildred, turning her serions eyes full on him, " bnt I have read Crabbe, and I know Aldborough. His books are quite recog- nised, I hear in London. We know little of them here, where we should know them
" Rather prosy to be called a poet," said Harry ; " but means well."
"No doubt," said Mildred.
" I suppose you will be going to Lias Webb's, sir ?" remarked Miss Mamford.
" Well yes," said Harry, " I thought of riding over now; my first business in Yarmouth was to call over and see yon, and give you David's last message-you know and best wishes, * and his desire that yon should keep up good hearts about him, and so on ; and then he charged me to tell El mira-Miss Webb, I suppose I ought to say-that he will look forward to his return as the happiest day of his life and all the rest of it. You know the kind of thing a lad would say, Miss Hope, nnder the circumstances."
Harry's good spirits and the flippant way in which he delivered his messages, the gaiety of his manner, the floppishness ot his velvet coat, his gold headed riding whip, his clanking spurs, wera out of harmony with "the feelings of "the two
women, and a kind bit rebuke at their en
Poor Sall Mnmford, her heart fall of tender love and anxiety for David ; and Mildred Hope, all sympathy for her friend, and with that deeper unspoken love for the lad that Sally only half sus- pected ; they found no ready response to the young squire's messages and comment There was an awkward pause, during which he tapped his seal buttoned gaiters and said he must go now, his mare was a little fretful, and he thought he moat give him a rest at the Norfolk and drive over to Caistor with his messages to Lias and Miss Webb. Did they think' he should find thom at home ?
Mildred thought Lias would be fishing. She saw The Scud off Gurleston in the early morning, and the Yarmouth men had'raostly pot out the day before.
« And Miss Webb ?" said Harry, " have jon seen her P"
" Not since Sunday," said Mildred, "she
was at church."
" In a fine new gown," said Miss Mum- ford, " and a hat fit for a duchess."
" You don't approve of Elmira's fine feathers," said Harry.
.«There's time and place for everything," said Sally,M and with David away I most say I did think the girl he has engaged himself to might have considered it in her hat and gown."
Sally spoke a little impulsively, set on to.be critical, not so much on account of Elmira's finery, as by reason of the some- thing flippant and thoughtless, to say the least, in the manner of Mr. Barkstead'* remarks about David.
"But young ladies, and especially pretty ones, Miss Mnmford, have a license in the matter of their toilette, and Miss Webb always dressed a little above
" More'a the pity,** said Sally.
"David likes to see her in pretty gowns," said Mildred, addressing her friend Sally, M and she has ta«te. every body must admit that. Poor El mira, she has a good heart, and she is right to try and be eheerful. Did yon notice hoar well she sung in the fisherman's hymn, as they call it-a supplication «for those at
" Oh, I have nothing against the dear child," replied Sally, regretting the words she had spoken ; " give my love te her, Mr. Barkstead, if you see her, and me and Miss Hope have it in mind to pay a call to-morrow, and perhaps she will eome to tea on.Sunday after Church.'But I will ask her that myself, AjÜ you need not mention that I thought her too gaily dressed; it might hurt the gel's feelings and heaven knows I don't wish to do that." '
" I'm very nnhappy," said Sally, when Barkstead had jangled his spnrs along the Bow, and mounted his horse, " about Slmira ; I am afeared this young man/"* heartless, and I never believed in ' t>£> truth of his friendliness for our -dor.: David. It's an awful thing for a gel ta be without a mother; and that Charit/ Dene's no good, not a ha'porth of sense. As for Lias why he's away for hours and sometimes for days; what's to hinder a designing young man like this reckless prodigal squire, with his fine manners and his grand ways, from making a fool of the lass, when she meets him half way with her vanity and fallals ?"
" Comfort you," said Mildred. "Elmira has far more sense than you think; besides, 6he is prond. very proud ; in such a girl pride is a good thing, and she loves her father; furthermore she is engaged to be married.
" I don't care, I wouldn't trust her'out of my sight if I was her mother or her aunt or foster or whatever it might be ; she knows little more than how to do her
hair and wear her clothes, and she gives her mind to that only to' raek folk gossip and set the men astaring. You talk of her singin' in church, didn't you see every young feller there, as we came out, stare at her and some of the old'ones too ? And she just know all about it. I've no patience with such ways, and especially when iwerybody knows that our David, poor lad, is gone to sea and would break his heart it he thought she gave cause for a light word to be said about her while he was away. It's bad enough when he's at
home to look after her." .'
"Poor David! Poor Elraira!" was Mildred's response ; " we mast pray that God will guard the motherless child. I will go and see her every day ; she will often listen to me ; there is mush good in the'girl's heart."
"And much vanity," said Sally. "I' fear David, with his good trusting sotfl1 and his faith and honour, has sorrow in store there-yee I do." "r ! >
Then Sally began to cry and, Mildred made an ingenious feminine effort to sooth her ; and all tho while Harry Bark- stead was making his way to Caistor, not driving, as he at first intended, but sit- ting in the stern of The Swallow, which he had found at the jetty with one of Webb's men, bound for the cottage with some fish and groceries and other trifles that Lias had ordered him to procure and deliver at the old house on the dunes, with a message that " he mought or he mought not come ashore as the case mought be/'
(To be continued on Wednesday.)