|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
LOYE'S CONQU9ISTE CHAPTER V.--Continued. ' H'm Z' mused Throgmorton ..; and.- Eh looked curiously at his friend for a- monrsnt, considering the expediehcy'of telling hid a circumstance that might throw a doubt upon that conclusion. Frank was a transparent) young;man however, and he always ended by letting out all that he knew. 'I am not so sure about that,' he said, with a dissentient shake of the head; she has a will of her own, no doubt, but there is something that gives thenm a hold upon her that I scarcely think you know of.' 'What is it 9' asked Esmonde eagerly. I knew thero must be something ; other wise'that fellow Tressilian would never dare to trample on her as he does ; she would not suffer it for a moment. What makes her stand it ? That is what I cannot com prehend.' 'Considering, the short time you have had at your disposal, it is surprising how much ;youthave found out !'said Frank, locking at 'him idiquisitively. ' Well, I suppose you might as well know the rest. You certainly ought to know it if you are in earnest.' 'I was never so much in earnest about anything- in my life,' asseverated Captain Esmonde ; and his countenance certainly bore the impress of veracity. ' Well, you know that, though there are only two living at home now, Lord Castle. burst had a great many children-nine or ten, I think there were And a frightful responsibility and expense they have been to him from first to last, for, as soon as they escaped from restraint, they made a point of going to the had as quickly as possible as they could one after the other. Tressilian is not an amiable char acter, but he is sobriety and steadiness itself compared with some of the younger ones. The reckless things that thy 'used to do ! They were a frightfully wild set, and no one knows what has become of most of them. Their names are never mentioned at Castlehurat, and, if by any chance he hears of them, the Earl lashes himself into a paroxysm of passion perfectly awful to witness. Not a pleasant family to marry into, Denys !' 'I should marry her, not her family,' responded Esmonde curily. 'Are all these wild sons grown up I Tressilian himself does not look more-blian thirty-five.' "' Oh,'he is more than that; he is five-and forty at least ! You will see dates in Debrett. Little snub-nosed snot,, he manages to look young ; but there must' he nearly twenty veas:betbeen him and Lady Adela. She is the eldest of the second family. You know that l' ' What-is he only her step-brother, then ? Oh, that is domehing to be thankful for !' SYes. After histiret wife's death, Lord CO.atlehurst married again-a pretty gentle little woman, who must have had an awful life of it. She had thlee children-two dau~ghbers'and a son-Egertoh--who came betW'ee' them. I remember Egerton very well "A wild young scamp he was; but there was more good, in him than in the obhlrs. There Was no real harm in-himtnand he might have buraod out well, but he was
killed by a fall from his horse before he was I twenty. Then the other daughter, Lady Elizabeth, the youngest of those three- I dare say you never heard of her 1' ' No-I never did I thought Lidy Adela was Lady Castlehurat's only daughter.' 'I dare say that is what he would wish you think,' said Frank drily, ' There is another however ; and Lady Elizabeth is Lady Adela's own sister ; but there was an awful scandal about her. She was high. spirited like the rest, and very plain. There is not much beauty in the Collingwood family, and Lady Elizabeth was the plainest of them all. She had the Collingwood big nose and high cheek-bones, and her hair was hopelessly red. Lady Adels takes more after her mother, and she can scar cely bt considered plain.' ' I should think not indeed !' interrupted Esmonde hotly. 'There were some pretty girls here last night, but not one of them were fit to be compared with her !' ' Evidently you think so,' returned Frank, laughing. ' I beg your pardon-I oughtn't' to have committed myself on that point. Let me return to my story. Lady Elizabeth' was plait-pl-in beyond a doubt--and of' course. with all those wild brothers running through everything, there was no chance of her having any money, so it was not easy to see she could be suitably provided for. She hers-lf was inclined to be wild too, and from: the-time she was fifteen 'she was constantly' in some scrape or other. There was no one: to look after lier-poor Lady Castlehurst. was nothing hut a dummy in the Earl's; hands-and Lidy Adela, who was the only. person who had any influence over her, was away in Germany studying music. Lady Elizabeth did pretty nmuch asshe liked. She gob herself very-much talked about, bit she didn't care ; and the end of it was that she skedaddled wi'h a rascally dancing-master or musician, or some sort of Bohemian fellow. The runaway pair were pursued, and, as ill luck would have it, they were caught, and she was brought back. The dancing-master, or whatever he was, would have married her, but the Earl, whose fury was something frightful, would not listen to reason, and he packed her off to some convent in Spain, where she must be leading a wretched life, I should think. Lidy Adela goes to see her once a year, and she is mournful for anonths afterwards.' Esmande listened to his recital with a countenance that became graver and graver; and at. this point he interrupitea the thread of his friend's narrative with an abrupt question. ' Are the Collingwoods Roman Catholics i' ' Oh, yes ! Didn't you know that ' Haven't you seen- But I forgot; you have not been to the Park yet, or you would have seen the beautiful litable chapel that the last Ear! built. They have never been a rich family, for there has been a succession of spendthrifts ever since they were raised to the Peerage in George the Third's reign, but they have always been devout Catholics, and the chapel is a little gem inside.' ' Does Lady Adele belong to the Roman communion, too 4 She is not an exception to the rest of the family in this,- as in so many other things 7' asked Eamoitide, with the anxiety of a man who .grasps at the faintest chance of a reprieve. But,.if he had a hope, it was dashed to theground by his friend's next words. 'Not that I know of. She is the most devout of them all, I should say-certainly the only one who carries out her faith in .practice ; and no doubt it is.mmainly fior re.ligious principle that she st ys on at home. She must be six-and-twenty now ; and most English girls in her place would have broken away long ago and taken refuge with rela tives. But for Lady Adela the convent is the only plsc' of refuge, and that, after her knowledge of her sister's experience, she looks upon with horror. That is the hold that Tressilian has over her. And there is, besides, another lover, which, in the hands of an unscrupulous fellow like him, is a power that enables him to put on the screw to any extent. This unlucky Lady Elizabeth has not yet taken the vows, and she rebels against it; but the Earl is determined that she shall ; and Adele has a hard battle to fight for her sister. Tressilian does not care about it ; but, whenever Adela crosses his will, he threatens to force matters ; and, as she knows that he is quite capable of doing it, she is obliged 'to give in. It is the only way of saving her sister from despair.' ' Then that is the explanation ? Ah-now I see it all !' said Esmonde, gazing abstrac tedly into the sunny garden and musing over the solution of what had been such a riddle to him. 'Not only that,' continued Frank, 'bub Tressilian is always threatening Lady Adela with her sister's fate; and it is not impossible that he might carry out that threat, by Jove. She is a favorite with the Earl, and very often she is the only member of the household who can manage him; but, when he gets into his fits of passion, hie turns savagely against her, rand Tressilian wo.uld
that he could turn to account. I don't know that she is really afraid of that, but she knows that he is absolutely unscrupulous; and I should think she must feel that the danger is alwaya hanging over her. It is a wretched position for any girl, and of course she will be glad to escape from it. You need not be afraid that she will refuse such a chance as you can offer. She would he a fool if she did, and neither the Earl or Tressilian would ever forgive her. But you had better think twice about it before committing yourself. It would be an awful risk for you.' This was excellent advice, but Esmonde was not attending to it He was absorberl in the contemplation of Lord Tresailian's villainy. ' The scnundrel,' he muttered between his teeth; ' I wish I had the horse-whipping of him !' And before nis mental vision there rose up the rememberance of Lady Adela's white face, with the look of mortal terror on it when she had hard her brother's step, and had tried to guard against his discovery of the dilemma in which she was placed. Well might she dread his knowledge of it, for to what purpose might he not have turned that knowledge? In looking the door he might have been merely the instrument of a perverse fate; but was it not too strange a coincidence'to have happened by ,ncidentl Was there not some purpose in that unaccountable precaution ? And, as he thoughbof it, a suspiciondarted into Esmonde's I mind which took firm possession of him, I
That villin' Tressilian must have known perfectly well what he was doing when he locked his sister in her room. He had done it on purpose, for his own ends; and Es unondo shuddered to think what those ends rnight be. If he was sucha scoundrel-if he was indeed capable of such an atrocious act as that-what a terrible, thing it was for Adela to be in his power. It was a chilling reflection to think that the woman he loved should be exposed to such machinations, and the hor blood rushed to his templea at the thought of h-r unhappiness and need of pro tection. All the generous chivalry of his nature was stirred by the idea ; and his im mediate impulse was a determination to rescue her, and make up to hat for every thing by such tender love and devotion as he had never dreamed of. But then there came upon him with a sobering shock the recollection of hts father -that handsome, resolute old ,nant wt h steel gray eyes that were usually kind enough in their expression, hut which could flash and sparkle angrily enough at times. Sir Patrick was not an unamiable man, but he had a hot temper and an obstinate twist in his composition His preju-lic-a were deep rooted, his aversions unconquerable, and his pride in the traditions of the ancient and honorable line which he represented was ineradicab!y a part of himself. He was a staunch adherent of Protestantism, and there was something almost bigoted in his abhor rence of Popery and anything that savoured of it. What would he think of such an alli ance as this ' The proud white-haired old man had lost his wife early in life, and his son was the sole remaining interest and hope of his old age. A quarrel between them would be intensely painful to both. Sir Patriok might break his heart, but he will never yield ; and his son reflected with sudden foreboding that on this point-the one point which he felt involved the whole hap piness of his life-he would have to face opposi:ion, and enter into a contention that would inevitably lead to anger and might end in estrangement. ' What is it, Denys 7' enquired Throg morton, who had been watching the ahsont expression of his friend's face for some minutes with no small degree of interest and curiosity. 'You look uncommonly sober ! Have my revelations had a whole some eflecb in damping your fervour, and have you come to the conclusion that you
will be well out of a connection with a family possessing such a' desirable collection of skeletons in its cupboard I' 'It-is not that,' said Esmonde, still ab stractedly. 'What you have told me does not effect her or my feelings towards her, unless it is to make me admire her ten times more for being what she j4 in spite of such surroundings, and to make me long the more to rescue her from them ; but my father wont realise that ; and I was think ing of him. How can I get him to under stand He won't know how good and charming she is, how perfectly sweet and pure, aend he will think only of the family disgrace and ecaLndal. Then their being Roman Catholies ! You know my father, Frank ; you know that his prejudices are strong.' Frank replied by an emphatic nod that was sufficiently expressive ; and then, after a short reflective pause, he emitted the long slow whistle which was to him a vent for his feelings and a relief in circomstances of an unsatisfactory or a perplexing nature. 'Better give it up, old fellow !'. he said sagely. ' With such rocks ahead, I wouldn't go on if I were you. Go back to town, and think no more about it. You will soon get over it, you will find.' Esmonde looked at him with a half smile. It was a sweet-tempered smile, but the light which played in his reckless blue eyes ex prested an obstinacy as determined as Sir Patrick's could posiibly be, and Frank knew his friend well enough to read the meaning of his silence and his smile. [e knew that a torrent of elquence would not have been so significant, and he shook his head with regretful astonishment. 'What can be the nttraction 1' Frank de manded muore in wonder then from any ex pectation of an answer. 'With your wealth, you might maorry a duko'a daughter if you chose It isn't ranul, it isn't beauty-you can't call Adela Oollingwood beautiful.' ' Can't I i' exclaimed Esmonde impulsive ly. ' I don't know about that. She is eer bainly more beautiful to me than any woman I have ever seen. What lovely eyes she has-what magnificent hlair-if you had sebn it I'. 'Yes-if I' had seen it 1' said Frank laughing, as his friend pulled himself up rather 'esddenly. 'I have- seen it, And noticed it. That glint of gold in such dark hlir is remarkable, and she must have a con- t siderable quantity of it; but, do you know, I
I have observed that the coils on the top of her head are much more golden than the rest. Do you think that looks -rabher susplcious 7' Esmonde smiled disdainfully at this base insinuation, bat he was unable to state the excellent reasons he had for knowing it to te groundless. ' I don't suppose I can possibly make you understand,' he said, with a laugh at his own folly in attempting to explain himself-' I don't fairly und,.rsand it myself, for, as I ell y ou, I have never felt anything like it before ; but I know it is no pas-ing feeling, and I shall never care for any other woman as T do for he, ! Ibti kismet! ' 'Evidently you are bey.ond the reach of argument or persuasion,' observed Frank with a sigh that was not entirely unreal ; but, recognising the uselessness of his efforts, he was wise enough to abandon the attempt, and he addresse, himself to the more con geniale role of sympathising and encourag ing. 'Poor old Denys,' he said to himself, as he reflected upon the circumstances after wards ; "I'm afraid he doesn't understand what a peck of troubles heb is going to let himself in for ! If I know anybting of Sir Patrick, there will be on awful row. I should have thought it was enough to be blessed with a choleric father, wibthout going in for a father-in-law like Lord Clastle horst. The best thing to hope for is that she will refuse him ; but she .,on't ! No, a chance of it !' And, as he thrught over the matter, Throgmorton was obliged to admit that it would be to much too expect tht,b a girl in Lady Adela's position would sucrifice the chance of exchanging her present misery for a happier life. What an exchange it would be for her I Of course she would be thankful for it. Any woman might be proud to be Denys's wife, and Lady Adela would not hesitate Frank smiled as he recalled his friend's despondent utterances on the subject of her altitude towards him, and his smile expressed some scornful amusement. He thought he know the Collingwoods; hut he did not know Adela.