|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
LOYE'S CONQUEST. CHAPTER IV.--Continued. It was a lovely morning after the rain. The sun was shining brightly on the stretch of water that the floods had left in the lower meadows, the trees were rustling fresh and green in the soft south wind, the birds were piping their hearts out in their joy over the perfect autumn day. Adela had stayed upFstairs for hrcakfast on the plea-which was genuine enough-of headache; but she had to be at home to receive some people who were coming to lun cheon, and at eleven o'clock she came down stairs in a morning dress borrowed from Maud Throgmorton, and went in search of her hostess. Most of the guests had driven or walked out to inspect the mischief done by the past night's flood, and to enjoy the beauty of the morning, and the sittting-rooms were all deserted ; but in one of them she encountered Lord Tresilian, who had sent for his dog-cart and was awaiting its arrival. He greeted her with an exclamation about her appearance. ' I say, Adele, what's the matter with you? Got a headache, have you T By Jove, you do look a wreck, and no imistake I wonder you like to show, looking such a fright.' ' I want to start for home as soon as pos sible,' aid Adela, disregarding these brotherly amenities. ' The Cazenoves are coting to luncheon, and, if I have to drive round by Bridgeford, as I suppose I shall, in conse quence of the floods, I shall be home only just. in time to receive them. I am looking for Lady Throgmorton to say Good-bye and explain why I have to hurry away. I sup pose you don't want to go home with me ?' 'Not I. I'm not so awfully keen upon seeing those old fogies,' he replied super ciliously. 'I have sent round for my dog cart, and I aha!l drive into B idgeford for luncheon. If you want to see Lady Throg morton I'll tell you where you will find her. She's in the library-the inner one, you know. By the way, Adelh,' he called out as his sister-moved away, 'you haven't told me how you enjoyed my little joke last night. How soon did you find out that you were fastened in 7' But Adela, who never suspected the depth of his iniquity in the matter, thought it prudent to avoid the subject, and, paying no attention to her brother's encering inquiry, she.' went 'into the .:room;i:to which he had directed her. Lady Throgmorton was not there; hut there was some one else, a man, whom she took for Frank Thxrogmbrton, with his hdad bidden behind a newspaper while he reposed at ease in a great" armchair which had been drawn into the sunshine near the bay. window. She went up to- him intending, to ask if hb knew where his mother was; but at her approach the newspaper was flung. aside, and she found herself face to face with the one person whom she wished, to avoid. :Ret re it, ws impossible,. and .Adela hastily braced herself to go through the embarrassing interview to which her brother's perfidy had expose-I her. 'Good morning, Captain Eanonde,' tshe said, with as much composure as she could muster. 'I did not know you were here.
I am looking-.for Lady Tbrogmorton, and my I brother told me I should find her here.' I She tried to speak in a tone of common place politeness, but extreme nervousness made her manner repellingly cold; and a Esmonde sprang up from his comfortable position with an expression of pain and sur prise on his face. This feeling, however, speedily gave place to another as he observed the alteration in her appearance. Her face was deadly pale, dark shadows under her eyes told a tale of sleep!essness and fatigue, and her figure drooped as if she could hardly stand. Captain Esmonde dragged forward the chair and made her sit down in it. ' You look very ill, Lady Adela,' he said, in a tone of kindly concern. 'Pray stay here and rest for a few minutes. I will go and find Lady Throgmorton and bring her to you. I think she is in the gardens. I heard her say at breakfast that she must seae.6 tilhe speedy draining of some of the flower beds that are under water. I will go and look for her.' ' Thank you,' responded Adela, accepting the comfortable seat that he had vacatod for her-for indeed she had felt her- powers failing her and was thankful to sit down. ' Please do not trouble to find Lady Throg morton. I will wait until she comes back.' She seemed to be speaking mechanically, and there was a strange far-off expression in her eyes which reminded Captain Esmende of his experience of the night before. He thought she would faint again in another moment and he grew alarmed. 'Lady Adele, you ate feeling faint ! What can I do for you ' he asked anxiously. ' Smate wine V' and he darted otl to fetch it,. In a very short time he retuned with a decanter and a silver, mug which he had snatched up in the dining room. He en treated her to drink some wine; but Adela had got over her maomentary feeling of weak ness, and declared that she was quite well. She could nobt be induced to take any wine but she could not help feeling his kindness, and she looked up with a wistful face from which coldness and restraint had completely v.nished. ' You are very kind, Captain Esmonde,' shIe said penfEently, ' and I do not at all deserve it. I never thanked you for the con side, ation that made you run a great risk last night on my account, and I have not even asked how you fared after you leJf me. Did you manage to get into the house 7' ' Oh, yes. I smuggled myself in through a window that might have been left open on purpose. As for the risk of that descent, it was really nothing. You have suffered much more than I. I am pained to see you look irg so white. Is your head very bad 7' ' Not worse than it often is, thank you. I am used to these headaches, and in a day or two I shall be all right. Captain Esmonde,'" she added hurriedly, ' I am going home directly-as soon as I have seen Lady Throg morton to say Good-bye-and I shall not see you again, but I don't want you to think me ungrateful. I was very ungracious last night, I know, but I was distressed and worried. I am not really ungrateful. I recognise how considerate and kind you were and shall not forget the gallantry with which you risked your life in order to save me from being talked about.' 'Do forget it,' he exclaimed hastily. 'Pray forget that, and also that other oconasion when I behaved with anything but kindness and consideration. Oh, Lady Adela, yester day was an unlucky day for me. Won't you. try to blot it out of your recollection, and begin an acquaintsance under happier cir cumstances 7 ' Before Adela could reply to this appeal, the doer opened, and Lord Tressilian lounged in with the swagger and ill-corTditioned bearishness of manner which characterised him. ' Ah, Captain Esmonde-thought I should find you here.; I-er-am off to Bridgeford. Beastly bore, but I have to go. I want to persuade you to look us up a bit. Will you -er-come to Castlehurab for a day or two this week or next ? We've one or two covers that prontise good sport. You must come, really; Lord Castlehurst is anxioas to make your acquaintance.' His hearers wore astonished at this invi tation. Adela was utterly unprepared for it, and she listened .in, consternation to this fresh stroke of fate against her. Esmondo hesitated for a moment before answering, but his mind was speedily made up, as he glanced at her impassive face. There was not a gleam of encouragement in her steadfastly maintained composure, and he was too proud a man to force himself where he was not wanted. 'Thank you, Lord Tressilian. You are very kind, and I am much obliged to you for your hospitable offer; but it is impossible for me to accept it. My furlough is nearly at an end, and I have to go and see my father before I return to town.' ' Oh, bother the old- I mean bother it all. Really you must spare us a few days. Can't you geS an extension of leave.' Esdaile shook his head wita.a smile, 'You don't know our chief,' he said signifi
cantly. ? Frank, you are out of it now, out you can testify to the peculiar blandness with which he is wont to receive an application for extension of leave.' Young Throgmorton had just come in from: the garden with Li'dy Throgmorton, who entered the room through the French win dow. 'Oh, don't I know it,' responded that hardly-used individual, mindful of the stern refusals with which his petitions for indul gence had so often been met. 'I think, if I hadn't sent in my papers when I did, I should not be alive now to tell the tale.' Frank Throgmerton had metimed from the army in order to live at home and take the management of Ithe estate under his father, who was getting too old for the sacrifice. It was an act of self-sacrifice, but ho chose to make out that he had been influenced solely by motives of laziness and self interest. 'WVell, it's a pity,' remarked Tressilian. ' But, at any rate, you must not deprive my father of the pleasure of seeing you, and I hope you will be able to come over to morrow or.nexb day. Adola '-Iurning his disagree ably prominent eyes in the direction of his sister, with a look which she well under stood-' you will hbe awfully glad to see 1 Captain Esmonde I' A?erla had no choice but to respond to the hint. SCan you spare the lime to come and see 'my father, :iaptin 'Emoride ' she said c quiebly. I' knowb`itwill'beoeal ple:isure to him to see you and hear about his old friend y Sir Patrick.'
She would not say that she herself wished him to come, and, while he regretted her in flexibility, Esmonde respected her sincerity. 'Thank you,' he said, ' I certainly will 1 come and pay my respects~to Lord Castle burst.' ' How about your foot, old fellow ' in quired Frank. ' Oughtn't you to lie up for a day or two and give it a chance V ' Why, what is the matter with your foot, Captain Esmonde 4' asked Lrdy Throgmor ton, pausing in her occupation of arronging some ferns in a tall vase by the door; and Adela's startled eyes silently repeated the question. Esmonde raised his eyebrows and smiled in a manner that did not convey much in formation, and his friend took up the story for him. ' He has sprained his ankle somehow, and we can't make out how he can have done it. It couldn't have been at cricket yester day, for he was able to dance in the evening. He didn't dance much, though. Was it in dancing that you did it, Denys. ' No-I don't think so. At least I didn't feel it then,' replied Esmonde. ' Its very odd,' Frank went on, mystified, but it was done when he came down this morning; and he limps hke a lame dog'when he thinks there is no one looking.' ' It is nothing,, declared Esmonde care. lessly-' merely a slight stiffness after a twist that I have somehow or other con trived to give myself. It will be all right to-morrow, and I will ride over and give my self the pleasure of calling upon the Earl.' ' We will drive you over in the afternoon,' said Lady Throgmorton, with placid good humor. • Maud and I have been wanting to sees your p inting of the Court, Adela. You have finislhed it now, haven't you 7 Shall you be disengaged to-morrow I' Adela answered that she had no engage .nent, and said very cordially that she would be glad to see Lady Throgmorton. ' Why not come to luncheon 4' asked Tressilian. ' I wish you would, by Jove and bring Captain Esmonde.' Lady Throgmorton raised no difficulty, and this arrangement was finally agreed upon. That being settled, Adela took her leave and went away.