|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
LOYE'S GONQUEST. ORAPTER VI.----Oontinued It was profanation in _Esinionde's eara s to hear Adela's name from Lord Tressilian's lips, and the connection in which the Vie count mentioned.it made him long to knock the fellow down. His color rose and his eyes flashed, but he was determined to keep cool, and he-set his teeth as he listened. ' I am unable to understand how any report could have arisen and how any gossip could have beep set on foot.' he said, making a great effort to' speak.. teniperately. § '.I am convinced that no one knew of thea blunder except you, your sister, and myself. , Lady Adela would certainly not breathesa wrd'to anyone; I have not; and unless you are responsible for it, I do not sea how the rbeprt can have originated.': - .. . .? ci. g :'Oh, these things have a&way of leaking out,' rejoinea Tressilian, ' they always do, and you never can find how. Perhaps some servant saw you going intdri the . room, or heard you sneaking out of- the window. You can't tell; hut there it is-the fact is known, and it will-be a frightful injury to my sisters prospects. "It is a ticklish thing to enter upon, but, as her brother, I am bound to look after her interests, and I may sa y that I think .you owe her reparation.' ' Reparation ! What sort of t eparamion Z' ' Well, really, you ought not to need tell. ing; but, confound it, if you want my view on the matter, .[ think you ought to offer to marry her,' said Tressilian, with an assump tion of assurance which he was far from feeling. They had reached the lowest of a:succession of terraces, anct'were standing on 'a imofthly mown grass plot, stretching between two rows of quaint old yew trees which had, been trimmed into a variety of fantastic shapes. There were twenty-four of these yew-trees -in the semblance: of rude dogs, goats, pen cocks, and other creatures, and in the middle of the lawn was a fountain which all the animals seemed to be gazing at. Lord Trcessilihan ;stood near, the fountain, throwiog fitle6i bits of tricK info the "main jet 'of water; and ha did not look at all at his ease-.in fact, he did snot ,find his.companion a good subiect for bullying, and he was afraid of him. Esdaile regarded him for a few minutes in silence, with an intense feeling of detestation, and for a moment he meditated a complete rupture with Adela's brother. Then he remembered that this man was Adela's brother, and he reflected that he had made up his mind, and that, as he was not Sgoing to be deterred'from his purpose by any drawbacks in her family, it would be folly to add a quarrel with the Viscount to the obstacles which already stood in his way. So he curbed his wrath and annoyance, and said, with deliberation '[ had intended to do that without any reminder from you, Lord Tressilian-; and .I intend it still,-if I cani find any opening that seems to offer the slightest chance of success b; but it will not be for the reason thait you imagine. '-I do.not consider that Lady-Adela. has been compromised in the very alightest` degree. .SShecertainly will not be, if you: keep silence upon the subject. I love your sister, and that is vwhy I shall ask.her..to marry me-for that and no other reasoni. Unluckily, I have displeased lher, and I am afraid that, if I asked hter-iow,'ille would r most likely refuse me; hibt- if tliouglit I had, a chance, I would not'waiiit another day.' ' You wouldn't ?' exolaimed Trassilian, too ? much'delighted by -this sudden nna 'unex pegt6j flling in withhis wishes to care about the imputation upon' his own veracity. ' Ask her then, Esmonde-ask her to-night. She won't refuse-I'll answer for thit.' 'I think, if you don't mind, that it would be better for you to keep out of the matter,' said Esmonde, with decision. ' Even if she had no other cause for objecting to me, I am afraid that a mistaken interpretation of the motives that dictate my offer would lead Lady Adela to reject me; but, if you say aynthing to her first, I shall not be able to persuade her to listen to me for a moment. It will be my great difficulty to prevent her from imaginiag that I am acting under any sense of obligation.' ' She won't reject you,' repeated Tressitian. ' She dare not-or, if she does, she will soon be brought to reason. She knows that I would have a say in a matter of that sort, and the Earl too. Oh, we will see that she treats you properly.' That won't do !' said Esmonde, roused at last, and stopping in his walk to turn upon his companion with a glance of determina tion so stern that it was almost menacing. ' Pray understand this, Tressilian--f won't have any forcing of yiur sisters inclination, and, unless I am positively certain that she accepts me of her own free will, I won't marry her.' ' Oh, well, if you think so,' returne`d the Viscount, affronted at -last, but too intent Itnon hi n hianh tn **$.l e+ ten ..o·:^- r_.
showing any signs of resentment., I Of'course I wish to help you, but if you won't-occept any help from me, that is your lookout. Adela may pretend- to dislike yon, and I daresay she thought proper to make a row about what you said on. the. crickeb-field; but, if she hadn't liked you, do you suppose she would have cared so much about it ? I tell you she likes you; and I ought to know. I heard her talking about you to the Earl last night, and I drew my conclusions.' The two men had been slowly retracing their steps towards the house, and were now approaching?a . side-entrance. In .a bay window overlooking the lawn and gardens Esmondo caught sight of Lady Adela bend ing over a writing-table, and, seeing her so unconscious of all that1had just passed con. cerning her, he felt as if the wholediscussion was a monstrous insult to her dignity, and he filled with a guilty sense of remorse for having taken any part in it. IHe hastened to check the viscount's unfair revelations, and entered the house, thankful that. the disagreeable interview had come to an end. * * * f Lady Adela was sitting alone in the west window of the spacious library, which was V her favourite sitting-room in the afternoon. A Patagonian footman, in the dauk.olaret t livery, had iust. brought 'in a wicker table 1 bearing bthe paraphernalia of afternoon. tea, anui, having disposed it near his mistress, . .retired noiselessly ; hub none of the guests, had yet appeared, and Adela's quill pen went on wvithout interruption.
Shelwas writing the direction of her last envelope, when the door opened and E-mondu entered the room. Lord Tressilian followed him ; but, seeing that his sister was alone, he only stopped to exhort her to give Oaptain Esmondo some tea, and then retired with a glance at Esm6ond which made that gentleman rejoice that Lady Adela's back .was turned. Esmonde begged her not to disturb her self on his account, and he took up a news paper in order to appear at 'his ease until she should be ready ; but Adela had finished her letters, and, rising from the escritoire, poured out tena or him. She poured out a cup for herself too, and, sitting on the win dow-seat, with a smile on her sweet face and no constraint in her mlnner, she looked so charming and looked so pleasantly `that for some brief minutes Esmonde was in Elysitjnm The reflection of the sunset which streaked the western sky .with crimson and gold glisteiaed upon, the .ruddy threads in the dusky waves of Adela's of Adela's hair, and, falling on Captain Esmonde, who had drawn up his chair opposite to.her, relieved his bronzed features iirradiated by an expression of ,he mos6'sunny connitiient and felicity. The subjects they were dis counsing-about were of .,comnionplace order; but these two were finding in each other's society a charm which was potent beyond the music of the spheres or the spells of the sirens. For the first ti.ne since they had met they were able to enjoy an exchange of ideas without constraint or embarrasment; and Esmonde at least found it supremely delightful. This happy condition of affairs was brought to end all too soon by. the appearance of the various members of the party staying in the house. The conversation became general, and Esmonde had no further opportunity of a tete-a-tete with Lady Adela until dinner-:; but then he found that the Fates were again propitious to him,. andt he was left till the last to go down with her. : ,The realisation of this privilege was no less delightful than is had seemed in anticip ition. There was a large party -at dinner-t?-n:oro twelve people-but there.. was 'a preponder ance of men, and Esmonde was plea:sed to find that his neighbour on the left' was a spotting friend of Lord. Tressilian.'s, a stranger to firn, with whom he was under no necessity to keep up a conversation. Adela's neighbour on the other side was the
same'individual who had sat nxxb to her at luncheon; and, as his powers of conversation had not gained in brilliancy in the mean time, he did not prove detrimental in dis tracting her attention from her partner. Esmondei had the field to himself, and he certainly made the most of his advantage. While all the rest of the company were engaged in csnvassing suljects of special interest to themselves-horees and dogs and the had prospects of the grouse season Adela was taking part in a conversation which was a refreshing 'change from the stale banalities she was usually condemned to hear. Oaptiin Esmonde did not lack fun and originality, and he could always be good company when he choose ; but on this occa sion he su.passed himself. He was so tblis. fully happy t:.at everything appeared to him couleur de rose ; and his happiness was infbctious, for he succeeded in bringing" a smile to his partner's face and a new light into her eyes. Adula could scarcely be insensitle to the delight in her society con veyed in every word that he addressed to her, every glance that she met ; and, though she did not stop to realise it or to analyse her own feelings, she allowed herself to be happy in the brief sunshine of the moment. Lord Tressilian putting up his eye.glass to observe from his end of the table how matters were progressing at the opposite bnd, found no cause for complaint in his sister's manner ; but for once in his life lie was impressed by'her appearance. *By jove, t' never saw Adela look so well I 'he thought, with some surprise. 'She certainly looks uncommonly well in that yellow frock I ' • L dy Adela. was one of those -girlsewho ,could scarcely be considered.beautiful, except by eyes that looked through. the :transfigur ing glamour of.love.; but there were times when she was as undeniably pretty as sh e was plain at others, and to.night her sweeb. face was lighted up with a brightness "that made her lovely., Sbe was wearing a rich dinner.dress of gold-conloured brocade, and in her-hair she had some yellow, fiowers that gave out a faint delicious scent and shone like stars. At was with Adela herself' that Denys hid- fallen in love, ;and the stately dress with the delicate old lice that hung about it and the soft rose flush on her cheeks had little to do with it ; but perhaps they had helped to dcoepen the charm, and the
moments, that he spent at her side passsed as if it was all a delicious dream. The dinner was an elaborate one, and old Lord C stlehurst, who insisted upon trying every course, spent such a long time over each that it was prolonged to an. unusual length ; but to Denys the time seemed only too short, and he uttered a sigh of regret and surprise when Adela gave the signal to the other ladies and rose to leave the room. He held the door open for h.r, and, when he could decently withdraw fr.,m the attentions of his host, he made his way from the draw ing-room. Adela was turning over some new music by the piano when he went in, and he at once walked over to her and asked her to sing. She complied without demur, and, sang very sweetly and simply a pathetic little song that Denys had not heard before. If she had sung "¶ Heigh diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle" with die voice of a pea cock,"he would have been sure to find some chaim in it,:so hopelessly was he in love; but as it was, there was some excuse for the delightl with which lie listened. He entreated her to go on, and, as none of the other ladies were musical, Adela did not feel that she ought to make way for them at the piano; and she stayed trying over one or. two things that Denys hunted out of her music and eslpecially begged for, and con tinuing' a conversation about musical mattersl which had been begun at dinner. 'Don't you sing yourself, Captain Es. monde 7' she asked pi esenuly. ' I am sure you do ! Won't you sing us something ?' ' Oh, I have never been taught music not properly, that is I I have picked up one or two songs, but I am afraid that they are chiefly of a'comic order.' ' Well, sing ts a comic song, then,' said Adela. '' One enjoys a comic song now and then, aind I am sure everybody will appreciate soimething lively as a change from the melan choly duties I have been, treating you - to. Would you not like a coiic 'song; M-rs de Hortey?' Mrs de' Horsey hailed the suggestion with raptute, aud;the other, ladies .were not behind her in enthusiasm. They , addded their entreaties to-hers; and the, men, cor-n ing in at that moment, joined in the chor:us. 'Oh, a comic song-that's thei asort .of music I like. , By all means let us have one,' observed Mrs de Horsey. '.Yes, by Jove--there's some sense in
music that makes one, laugh l' echoed Lord Tressilian. ' None of your sentimental trash for me.' ' Won't you do 'something, bo appease this universal craving for high class music l' asked Adela, with a touch of malice in her laughing glance. 'I am sure you can remember something i' Denys was by no means in the mood for a comic song, and he protested that he could remember nothing but old ballads that were not worth hearing; but he found he was in for it, and sitting down to the piano, he began an opening prelude with no inexpert touch. It was an old song that he sang-a song about a certain hard-hearted Louisa-and Adela had heard it before. A betting-comn. panion whom one of her brothers had intro duced at Oa-tlehursat had once sung it in that drawing - room, and she remembered distinctly his revolting appearance as he bellowed out heo song, which had inspired her with mingled feelings of disgust and pity --disgust at the depth of vulgarity revealed, and pity for the unconsciousness with which it was displayed. Captain Esmonde sing the song different so-differontly that it did not sound like the same song-?and, as shbe listened, Adela came to thie conclusion that the singing of a comic song was not a bad test of refinement. Cap tain Esmonde'&.rendering of the woes 'and blunders of the absent-minded lover, whose head was full of "Lousia " that he could think of nothing else, :was amusing from the contrast between the sentiment.. ,that he enunciated and the innate refinement of his expression and intonation. He looked up' when he had finished with a depreciating glance ; but, to his sur prise and gratification, he saw that Lady Adela had been listening to him with a smile of evident pleasure and appreciation. She looked away instantly; 'but the ap preciation of the ret b. of the audience wds nmore lo.udly-expressed, and'? they clambured for another dong.' '."D sing again l' said. Adoela ; and the' moment he heard the low tones of her voice he sat'down to the piano again. .'But his second song was nob, a comic obe. ' It was a hackneyed song abou'ta dying Lancer that by some strange anomaly is usually supposed to be comic, and Adela had always heard it, sung.in a rollicking fashion with a roaring chorus and a thumping ao- I
companiment of two common chords ; but OCaptain Etmonde accompanied himself.by full and charming chords that drifted occas ioinally into the minor, and changed the character of the sung to one which was dreamy, melancholy, and p ithetic. It was not to the taste of the audience, anti when he rose he was not asked to sing it again. ' By Jove, Emonde, you spoiled that song,' observwd Tressilian. ' It's a rattling good 'song when it's properly sung ; but you crawled through it as if it were a confounded dirge.' Esmonde laughed and darted a glan:ast Lady Adela. 'I' like th it version very much,' ~ebe-said` as he came up to her. ' Did you make up those harmonies yourself 7 ' Oh, no ! One of our fellows, who is aw fully good at that sort of thing, ,composed them, iand I have simply picked `them: up from hearing him.' .: , [ think it is charming !'declared tAdel'-. 'Has it been published to that setting yet?, I should like to get it.' . '-I'll send it you. It has notbeen published, but. I'll get Melville to write you out a M.B. "'Oh, ano-piny don't take that trouble I' said Adela hastily. 'Please don't think of it' 1 'It won't be any trouble,' replied Esmonde with a smile thit betokened persistency. i What are you debating about now 7' demanded Lord Tressilian, cotiing up to set 'down his coffee cup. 'I heard a dispute about Biirne-Jones and Rossitti going on at dinner; now I suppose you are'at it again. Adele, have you shown Captain Esmonde your painting- ?' Adela answered that they were only daubs, and not worth showing; bu Esmonde begged to he allowed an olportunity of judging for himself on that point. ' I heard Lidy Throgmnorton saying that you had taken a sketch of the Couri, Lidy Adela. May I not see ' he pleaded ; and' Adele was too simpleminded and well-bred to raise any further objections. ' It's only a sketch,' she said,-' and it is ;rlther a lib-1 on that lovely.old house.; but, if you want to see it--? reville, would you m;nd fetching it ~'The paint is not q?tie dry yet. I um :afraid if I send one of the servants for .b.lhewill .dabble his fingers in Oh, confound it, Adela,' roenonstrated Tressilian ; 'you don't expect me to go lugging about your beastly paints, do you 7 I shall dabbile my firiger.s worse than any body ; besides those pictures of yours smell awfully, and we shan't thank you for bring. ing it in here. Much better take Captain Esmonde to your painting room, if he wants to see them. Adela had become inured to her brother's rudeness, bit the exhibition of it before -Esmonde wounded her, and the e was a flush of vexation ln her fiace at she asked him if he c'ired to take the trouble. He assured her that lie would of all things like it;. and he followed her out of the room chafing with indignation, of which Lord Tressilian was happily unconscious. ? VWell, I've done my' part,' ieflected the Viscount; ' and if he don't profit by-it, lie des rves to be hunig.' [TO dB CONTINUEbD. .