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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1898-04-27
Page Number4
Word Count1183
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleQueanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)
Trove TitleLove's Conquest
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CHAPTE1 VII. Lord Tressilian's entrance had broken up the little party in the octagon room. The Earl never could bear his son's presence for long, and he soon began to grow fidgety and irritadle. He was evidently relapsing into his former state of-ill-humour, and gave his son a frank intimation that he would like to be left to himself for his afternoon doze. The Viscount took the hint, and proposed an adjournment, to which Esmonde readily assented. ' We might go for a stroll, and smoke a quiet cigar,' said Tressilian, te the two men descended the broad flight of stairs; 'and then, when we come in, Adela will give you a cup of tea. I'll take you round the gardens if you care to see them. Won't hurt your game foot, will it?' Esmonde did not care to go out for a stroll with Lord Tressilian. It was not for the pleasure of the Viscount's society thaat he had been induced to stay, and he was more than half inclined to make, his lameness an excuse for remaining indoors, where he might have a chance of being more pleassantly enter tained. But, on secondi thoughts, it struck him that Tressilian might have some reason for seeking his company, and, if he had any. thing particular to say, it might be as well to hear it. He therefore assented to the proposition, and said that lie was quite able to walk slowly-the strain was a alight one, and it was already passing off. ' How did you manage to do it, and when was itt' asked the Viscount, as they passed between the atone griffins that gaarded she terrace stops. ' You never really let it out the other day, you know.' He spoke abruptly, and with an abuance

of the drawl that he usually. affected. Its seemed us if there might be some drift to the question, and Esmonaie was rather startled; but he answered with well-assumed cure lessness 'There was nothing worth making a fuse about. I have simply given my foot a slight twist. Didn't I Ray so 4' - 'Yes-you said that; but you would not give any explanation as to how it happened; and it struck me that there was something queer about it. Don't you know when you did it 4 ' Evidently the Viscount's pprtinacity was. the outcome of something more than idle cutIiosity, and Esmonde faced round, deter mined to find out what he was driving at. 'Yes-I do know,' he said chartly; ' hub what of tshat' One does not care to make public all that one knows. Have you any reason for questioning met?' The tonet of this rejoinder m:ade it very much akin to a challenge, and the question was so cavalierly put that most men wou'd Shave taken umbrage; but Tressiliaa could be very thick-skinned upon occsion, and it was not his purpose to quarrel with what he considered to be his interest. He was thei e fore ready to put up with any amount of provocation from Esmonde, and he answered without a touch of reaenument ' Well-yes-I have a reason. Look here Captain Esmonde, I am going to be frank with you. I presse l you to stay with us this afternoon because the e is som-thing of a serious nature th·at I want to ask you abour, and I got you to come our he e that. we might have it out without any fear of interruption. What is this report that hlies come to my e re about you and my sister ' I hear that you were chub in with her in her room half the night after the Thragmorton's dance. Can you explain it ?' Esrnonde g .z-d fixedly at the mean face of the speaker, and was at once aware that his suspicio.ns were well foundrd. Lord T, es silian had been guilty of the dastardly out rage that lie had suspected him of, and, as he looked at him, lie could scarcely repress the contempt and loathing that he felt. ''There is no such report,' he answered coldly-' it is quite impossitle that there should be.' ' Do you deny the fact that you were in my sister's bedroom after midnight on the night of the dance ' ' demanded Tresailian. .Certainly not 1 You know as well

as I do that I was there; and you know too that it was by the simplest and most innocent accident.. Why your: sister should stand in such dread of you that she dared nob seek your help out of the dilemma, you -oin perhaps explain; but I cannot understand how, if you knew I was there, you could. reconcile it to your conscience to do what you did, and risk involving her in what might have been a very serious scandal. Lord Tresailian,' said Esmonde, with uncontrollable indignation, 'if you bolted that door knowing that you were exposing your sister to such a danger, there are no words strong enough to condemn your con duct! It was a villainous act, and no man of honour, or even ordinary self-respect, could have done it ' The little Viscount was alarmed at the tone of repressed fury coming from a man who was head and shoulders above him, and he attempted to vindicate himself. SI never did such a thing I ' he stammered hastily. 'I had no notion you were there upon my honour I hadn't ! It was only afterwards, when I heard about your foot and began to put two and two together, that I found out.' Esmonde knew th at this was a lie, and he looked with deep disdain and disgust at the cont-mptible little cad who had the coward ice to seek refuge in such bar-faced equivo. cation. He said nothing, however, and his silence encouraged Tressilian to pluck up courage, and attempt to improve his position by bluster. ' What do you moea, Esmonde, by attrib. uting such a thing to me ? Confound you do you suppose that I would trust the honor of an absolute stranger so far as to place my sister's reputation at his mercy, let alone the risk cf gossip and scandal if any hint leakid out ? Is buch a thing likely? D n't you know that I-have had a lesson with one sister; and do you suppose I should care to court the danger of further disgrace'? Of course I did .not know you were in there when I played my little joke on Adela; and, upon my honour, I don't know how you dare to inmply uch a mnonstroas thing ! But it has come out sornthow, and I don't know what is to be done. It is no joke for a scandal of that kind to get abroad ; and in this case it will be an awful nuisance, fr that business of Elizabeth's that you have no doubt heard of gives colour to anything that ill natured scandalmongers may choose to say agaiast poor Adela.' LTO BE CONTINUED.]