Chapter 31365446

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Chapter NumberIX.-Continued
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Full Date1898-05-07
Page Number4
Word Count3021
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleQueanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)
Trove TitleLove's Conquest
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CHAPTER'IX.--Oontitnued She felt-iiute sure' tieb aktde 'id not love him; so she told herself over and over aigain. that she-had done light to refuse him. She had a rnlreone' nisstiakd ri'iXiwing ;herself to be forced: Sn abi igamnien. with iMr Buck fastleigh, add. she was nob going to be betrayed into another -IJf circumstances had ibltfillen'ou'tas'they had done, her feelings might have been very diffeien." Captain Esmonde cared for her no one else h? d ev-erdilone?? efore-she felt that; but from the very fiost she had' steeled her hear' against him; and the barrier which a aeo cession of mischances had raised up between il*'|'liýd ~ beeri' rendered insuperable by Lord Tiessilian's machinations. S ehad. listened to'a very prosaic sort of wooing from Mr Buckfast!eigh, and the recollection of C ptain Esmonde's face as' he beat over her with passionate words of love and promis a of deep and tender devo ion, had moved her s' Adela. was very. unhappy, but she did not know why, and she attributed 'the' depression and 'weariness to evrey c asea but 'the right one.:- The con aciousness of the way in which 'Oaptain Esmonde's name .was being coupled wish here was?anflicient, abhi'thoughit, to ·account= for her disortifoit' 'and she 'etiergetically' _etl liri?tiif to deny the rumor. The lodae-gates of Throumorton Court wfs'not aimong tho4e that turned upon their hinges to admit Mrs. Stanfield's smart pony carriage, for Lady Throgmorton,"gen~tle.'a nd placid though she was, had her own ideas about so:cial position, and' they were rathvir exclusive ; but she had friends who were not so exclusive ai herself, and, it was not long before the repoit which Lord Teiedsilian had set going.found its way to the Court. D .ar me-did you not know '' exclaimed the caller who was the fitsat to impart the news to tlhe asonished and incredulous ladies of the house. ' Oh, I assure it is quite true I Every one is talking about it ; and it 'is -a. well-known fact that he proposed to her one nigh>t whi~n he 'Wia dining at Castlehurst. Why, it was at your dance that they met, anwl I came here thinking that I should hear all about it at first hand i' 'I have never indication oft such a thing. I think there 'must he somt mistake,' said Lady Throgmorton, with stir prise. S'Really ? How extraordinarly I' remarked ',"i." 'L'Estrane, who' had grown-up daughters 'of her own and perhaps observed with malicious amusement the look of disgust on-Maude's face as she lisened to the news. * Well, it may be a false rep"rt, of course, but really I don't see that there is anything very improbable about ir. Lidy Adele is a sweeot girl, and very nice-looking, it yeu come to think of it. I thought that she looked ex tremely well at your dance. And he will be tremendously rich when his father dies eighty thousand a yenr, isn't it ? Lord Casdlehursa 'will be delighted with the .match I Do you know I should not he in the least surprised if it turned out to lie tru" I' The question caused Captain Esmonde to. open his eyes very wide, but he ri;pliedibriefly in the negative. He was not engaged,.to Lidy Adola, nor was he likely to be. 'He had asked her to marry him, but she had refused, and that was all the foundation there was for the tumor. He missiied at once' that Lord Tressilian had set the'story rolliig, and he was not so much annoyed as might h ive been expected, for he cared very little about public opinion-so little that his being pointed out as a rejected suitor did not trouble him in the least-and, exc-pt in .so far as it concerned Lady Adelh, he did not mind,bwhat people .said. .... 4 Tho person ~who" felt the strongest resent ment at the revelation was perhapsa Maude Throgmorton. It was a shock to that young lady to discover that, all. the tim she had been deluding; herself- with a" flattering interpretation of Captain'Esmontle's deferen tial attentions to her, his at'entions had been centred upon Lsdy Ad,.la C-llingwood. Maude was disgusted, and site remembered that she had never liked Lady Adela. ' Those quiet reserved 'girls were always the worst flit ts, an;l no' doubt' she had done her level best to draw him on. The fact that shehad I refused him made no. differenge; and it was I just a hat 'Maudenight hssve'expeetdd` froni a sister of that alominable Lady E'izabeth. The Collingwoids were a horrid setA and Cnp'ain Eamopde ttight congratula'te. Ii' t

self on escaping from their clutches. No? doubt the Earl would be glad to get hold of such aswealihy and well conneotel son-in-law; and of course Lord Tressilian would be full of schemes for preventing such a desirable mnatch from faring through. That hateful Tressilian ! Maude quite believed the dis- I crebitable stories that were told about him. She was ready to believe anything against the Collingwoods now; and, as for OCptain iEmonde, his inconceivable folly and blind. ness had forfeited him his place in her good opinion. - Ib' was evident that the shameful way in which- he -had been treated: hadl notin the lia st lessened his infatuation, fir, instead of sliortening his visit and at once returning to LIndon, as any man of sense would hive dune in similar circumstances, here he waq staying on, mooning about the house, pre tending to look cheerful, and then, when h-* thought no one was observing him, relapsing into a 'state of desperate melancholy,-i He might make his lameness an excuse, but it did not prevent him from walking in the directi?n o£f astlehurst every day; and .ihfude hatd dipcovered him more than once g zing wistfully out of a window in the hall, from which a glimpse of Lord Casllehurst's .big grey house could bewseen through the t|.esJ bSheiwas convinced that ~ireuas stay ing on, either in the foolish hope of -seeing -Lady Adrll again, or from the still more idiotie desire?te ,remain near her; and she ýseidh' h had' no patience with such sentimen tal perversity. -, 'You are very unsympathetic Mas'de,' 'remonstrated Lady Throgmorton, who sym. pathised heartily -with Cap'ain Esmonde; 'I don't see why you should bi so severe upon hilu . I must s:y I feel sorry fir h m, ?He?puts-a brave face upodn it b19for& u+,;bur I can see that lie is very much in love with -Lady Adela, and I am afraid ihat it h.s g me so deep thit it willb, liard for- him to got _over it. It is incnmpreheusible to me why she should have refused him ; and really, :sinue he feels it so deeply, I hope she'mniay .change her mind:' - ' f-he re.nains conitant, :and will have the patience to waibat little, I should noh-wonder if it were to come right ili the ,endi' - Iut this train of thought was not at all in harmony . with Maude's feelings, and she left her.'mother to go upstairs- to her own room, whereashe found an outlet to her indignuaion by wriiong a long letter -on the subject to

her bosom frited. 'CiThe friiedhiplii l been for med at school, and the other?young-lady, who was a little older bh n Mande, had been m·irried a year or two ; but they correspon ded frequently ; and..this particular letter was' 'to 'h t?e a not' unimportant bearing upon the fortunes of Caputin Esmonde. Tlhee two romantic sentitental young ladies had agreed that,' in "their' private intercourse, they would discard the pretty and simple names of Maude and Annie in favor of the utterly hideous and un-English appellations of ' Valtuda' and, 'Yseulte.' Maude wrote 'Dearest Valtruda-Thanks many and muchlly for your last delightful long epistle, which [ ought to have answered 'long emr this, only it came on the morning of our dance; and I have heen so awfully Iuisy ever since that 1 really have not had a monient to callnmy own until now. ý I am afraid that I have nob any partiular news to tell you, except that'our dance went off very well, and I danced.every .dance,. you. dear old flattering thing. There is one thing' however that I think will interest,you,.and I really must tell yoel all about it,' 'for''my mind is full of it, and I cannot think-of any; thing else just now. i' think I have heard you speak of Sir Pa'rick Esmonde as one of your ne ghbours, and perhaps you know his soe, who is in the Guards. He is a, great friend of Frank's, and he has been staying with ts the past fortnight. We asked him down,.for our dance; but, if we had known 'what would come of it, we should never have been so 'anxious to gebhim here, However, _ we" did nob know, and he .came, and made himself v'ery pleasant, and'-we aill liked him very much ; hut at the dance his' was not much good. He dano-td very little, and only asked me for a quadrille; which was abominable behaviour, of course, when he cn --waltz so well ; but he afterwards made; some (excuse about his ankle being sprained. 'However, the-fact wats 'thab Lady Adela Oollingwood was here;:nnd he':was so taken up with her that he hadl no attention to spare for anything or anybody else. .. We never 'noticed anything, forno .one saw him da-nc ing with her, or suspected that lie was paying her any particular attention that evening ; but'~ehe stayed theinighb here-owing 'to the floods, which prevented the Oollingwoods, and several other people who lived the other :side of the river, from going home-and the next morning mamma and Frank- came

upqon them in the morning-roomn, andevident- I ly something had been going on. She had nearly fainted, and OCtatain Esmonde had had to rush for wine. We found the dec.anter on the table afterwards, and he had to admit that it was for her that he had got it out. Hwr brother, Lord Tressilian, was in the room when mamma came in, and he was pressing Captain Esmonde very hard to come and stay at Castlehurat. The Captain refused ; but he consented to Co and call upon Loid Casttlhursb, who, it seems; was a friend of Sir Patrick's many yearn ago; and mamma and I drove over with him to luncheon'next day. We came away in the afternoon ; tu Lord Tressilian manceuvred for Cap ain Esmonde to stay to dinner. lie packed us off without him in Sthe most overbearing manner, insisting that the eacl wanted to see more of Captain E' monde ; but of course it was for a very different reason that he was made to stay; and he must have fallen very easily into the trap that was laid for him, for he proposed to Lady Adela that evening ! ..' -We heard nothing about it for several days afterwards, but it appears that 'Frank. was in his confidence the whole.;time, and now the.wl:ole. thing has" some out: :The .urprising part of it is that Captain Es monde declares that- Lady Adela refused hicu ; but.hle is just as .infatuated -with her as ever, and-evoeyone says it- is un engge ment. The Earl and "Lord Tressilian are berft.upptit of, course. It is what they kh've beenpl.iining it all along, for. of conrae they only care shout securing a rich parti for her ; apd iCptain Esmonde , is so hope lessly uander her sprll that he is likely to prove nn:easy victim. It seems a pity, for he is such a nice manly fellow, and his pros pects might he !really splendid ; ,but, if lie I oes and gives himself up with tlhe- Colling woods -- You know what that family is! Thb Eirl himself is a most disreputable old man, who drinks, and ghmbles and swears, and has only left off disgracing himself open ly since he lias become too old and sickly. Eadh of'his sons has t'urned out badly ; and, as for his daugters-- I told you something of that,shocking scandal about Lady Eliza boeth, ho eloped with an artist ; and. Lady Adela istnot much better, though she has more' wordly--wisdom. She is a heartless flirt, inndabout a year ago she jilted a man sheo.was. nggged to simply because he turned out to bi not is rich as -she had supposed

him to be. What Captain, Emionde can-see in heoi is an enigma to me. She isn't young, she isn't pretty, she isn't even clever ;. bu soumehow or other she has contrived to cast a glamour over him, end he thinks her every thing th-,t is perfect. ' They have hidden away that wretched Lady Elizabeth in a convent ;; hut, of course, nothing can really wipe out the disgrao t she has brought upon the family. What can you expec from the sieter of such a creature -and then such a father, and all those wild disreputable brothers ! f am truly sorry for poor Captain Esmonde, and hope lie will escape from the entanglement ; but I fancy he has not much ch nce against the wiles of such an unscrupulous and unprincipled pair as the Earl and his son, and no doubt tie will end by marrying her.' What a world it is we live in. ' I have fill.d up my letter with all this gossip, and now it is post-time, and 'I must .not add more to-day. I hope I have' not hored you with this story, end' you know I 'always :poor otit'everythbin to. -youi ;' -and it is such.a comfort and relief to me to have sdcimeone of whose sympathy I can 'always he sure, I , What would life be without friend ihip 1 I must positively stop or I shall lo?le the post. 'Ever, dearest Valtruda, Your beib f, iend, . YSEULTE.' After 'scribbling off this seffu4ion and putting it into an envelope directed in .large rscrawling characters, Mande experienced conSiderable relief, and she went downstairs with a letter in her. hand, intending to put the:letter rack on the hall-table ; hubt, to her dismniy, she saw that the .tack. had ieen cle tred,.and, looking at her watchli "she found that she was ten minutes lhte and that the letters had already gone. The post-town Ivas two miles distant, and tha?rstablishment at the Court was otb very large. Maude knew that none of the ser 'vents could be spared an that hour to take her letter ; yet she did not. want it to be delayed, for the news it contained would lo.e half its interest in' waiting till.. the next post. "Shi found'Captiin Esimonde in the hall, lookin. oub of one of the windows at the rain, which at one moment was driven :hby the. wind against the window-panes, and the next seemed to be: whitled' away in the opposite drrection, It was acohl. blusterous day, and-through the rain spiinkled windowds the distant towers of Castlehurst were . scircely distinguishable. The clouds hung

low over the tops of the trees, and the out look was not a cheerful one ; but its drea;ri ness was in accord with Esmonde's medita tions. He turned when he heard Maude coming down-stairs, and noticed the look of discomfiture on her face. " What is it ' he asked considerately.. 'Have you lost the putt ?' ' It is only ten minutes past six,' said Maude, in a tone of vexation, 'and they are not generally so punctual, but the stupid fellow must have taken the letters early to-day ; and he walks so fast that thece's nob a chance of catching him up' ' Can't you send some one with it ' aug. gested Esmonde. 'There must be plenty of time to catch thie post at Bridgeford.' 'Oh, yes; but there is no one who -an conveniently go ! You see it is getting near dinner time, and none of the servants can he spared. Now-it must wait till to-morrow; bub it's too provoking !' ' Oh, I'll take it for you !' said Es-monde. 'Yes-I should like. to really I I haven't been out all day, and I w,ant a walk.' ' 'I tm afraid it will be bad for yourfMoot,' faltered Maude; but she was very anxious that her letter shoald go, and, when Esmond protested that he was keen on the walk and made light of his lameness, her desire proved stronger than her sccrples, :nd, satisfying her conscience by a alight show of reluctance, she accepted his offer. , She felt a decided twinge of compunction howeve.r when she saw Captain Esmonde s.lly out into the driving rain and remem bered the contents of the missive of which he had so unsuspectingly taken' charge.. She sat in the pleas.nt fire-lit drawing room, pouring out a cup of steaming tea whict sent forth a delicious fragrance of orange-pekoe; she then helped herself to a muffin, and, with a novel on her lap, leaned biack in an easy-chair with a sigh of contenbtenn, resign ing herself to the comfort if afternoon tiea. It was then that she saw Captain E-monde pass the window; and, as she watched him going down the drive with a slight but not ungraceful limp, it crossed her mind that hetr account of his love.story was perhaps not a ascharitable as it might have been. But Maude was not a girl to trouble Sherself with conscienti,,us scruples, as she put s aside the moment tiy feeling of self-reproaoh t with the reflection that, after all, it did not S.matter what impression had been given to a I p -rfect stranger like Mrs. Hilton ; Oaptsin Esmonde would ni-ver know what she h.d amid. There could be no harm in it, and, sipping her orange.pekoo and toasting her feet with an easy conscioene, Maude gave herself .tip to the enjoyment of the last society story from Maudie's until it was time to dress for- dinner.