|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
S-LOYE' -CONQUEST. CHAPTER XVII.--Oontinued. Whether intentionally, or. nob, iMr Rif.unt_ laid a slight stress upon the word ' personall rv, and Lord Lord Castlehurst book it as a hint. 'You mean that she has not enqourbiged you, bub we have,' lid 'sadd'; and you 'think we ought to have told you that her affections were not free ' ' I think it would have been better,'-,eplied Jonathan Blunt, with characteristio direat ness. 'We could not let you know,what wre were ourselves in ignoranoe of. Abtone time I was anxious that my daughter should marry Captain Esmondo; but, when he proposed to her, she refused him point-blank -as she did you-as she hasdone t.,)v.ry one else who has asked her-and sh"' has always denied that she cared anything about him.' '.OaptainEsmondel' said Mr Bluntquickly. 'That tall fair-haired man who was staying at Sir Nicholas Throgmorton's-the one who played so well at the the cricket-match 2' 'The same,' replied the E rl. 'His father, Sir Patrick Esmonde, was a comrade of mine in my youth ; hut we are not on friendly terms-indeed circumstances have arisen which make an alliance be'ween, the two families out of the question. Adela should not marry Captain Esmonde now if be were to offer her the coronet as well as the income of a duke'lom ; she would not, she has too much sp'rit." ' Ah !' said Mr Blunt, with a painful con traction of the brow as he recalled the splendid physique and the advantages of birth, fortune, and education which made Captain Esmonde so formidable a rival. 'So that is the man ! It is no wonder that her fancy was taken. And I should think she is not likely to forget him easily, what ever the difficulties that have arisen may be. But she must have known him a very short time I' ' For two days only,' declared Lord Castle hurst impressively. ' I myself introduced him to her at the cricket-match, and they did not dance together-there was some mis understanding ; but it was put right the. next day, when he came up to Castlehurst to luncheon. He stayed to dinner ; and during the evening he made a declaration of love, which, considering the shortness of their acquaintance, was an unjustifiable premature proceeding. She regarded it in that light, and refused him ; and since then she has neither seen nor heard from him. T'hat is all the intercourse there has been between them, and Ihe obstacles to the match are positively insuperable. I leave you to judge whether the affair need stand in your way. I think you will see that a courtship so brief and unprosperous can hardly be regarded as an entanglement, and is not likely to leave an impression that will not be effectually effaced by time and fresh interests.' 'Can you assure me,' asked Mr. Blunt, with an earnestness that betrayed how much the answer would mean to him-' can I rely upon ib, that they really saw as little of each other as you havo told me ' 'Upon my honour, you can I' answered Lord Castlehurst in good faith. 'I know that they have only met on those three occasions ; and I can assure you thas no letters have passed between then,. I know that from Adela herself, and she is as truth ful as the day. The fact is, Mr. Blunt, Tressilian is not over-complimenta-ry to his sister ; but he is right in one thing that he says of her-she is a woman that does not know her own mind. You know that she wassengaged-to Mr Buckfastleigh-that was against her wish-but, when the engagement was broken off hy me-for I was not either satisfied with either his character or his prospects-she was inconsolable. Then she thought she liked Captain Esmondn ; but she refused him when he proposed to her, and now is seems she regrets it. She refused you, and I have no doubt that she will be repenti,,g that soon ; and that is why I am here to-day. If it is not decided for her, "Adela will never be married-and marry she must I When I am gone, she will have no one to look to but her brother; and that won't do! 'I should think- nobl ' exclaimed Mr. Blunt, .almost:involuntarily, The Earl showed his teeth in a saturninie smile. It was well known that there was no love lost between him and Lord Trs silian, and he made no secret of his con temptuous dislike,
. ' My son has a generous kindly disposition, o and he would do his beest to make things p pleasant for her, of course,' he said satir- I ically ; ' but still he is not exactly the n gasardian I should choose for her, and I v think she has the sense to see that. She must ro.rry therefore ; and I know of no 9 one who would suit her better than yourself. g She sincerely respects and honours you, and t I think there can be no better foundation u for marriage than that. As for this fancy h for Captain Esmonds-I have told you what v grounds it res's upon, and if you are the t man I take you for, you will not let it be a , bar to your desire-that is, if you.still-desire i to marry her.' -. .?0If I desire it ! ' Mr B!unt exclaimed. ' I can hardly tell you how much I desire it"I But I should not feel justifie.l in letting my I happiness stand in the way of heres. Is there no chance of her ever m irrying Captain Es. monde .What a-:e the insuperable obstacles '" I will?.tell7 ou, said the Earl, his coun tenAn-e. darkening. ' Since you wish to enter' myjfnmily, you have a right to know. TntoIl first place? Sir Patrick chose to set his face against the match. He has got some heiress in pickle whom lie wants his, son to marry ; and he has sworn by all his gods -that, if-Ci ptain 'E-monde goes against his wishes in this matter, he will disinherit him. He can do it, and he would do it-I know l?ow pig-head.ed he is-and the sacrifice would be too great for Captain Esmonrie to make ; besides, I would never allow my daughter to marry a man with no prospects -she is not meant for a poor mitn's wife. But, in the second place, Sir Patrick hits written such a scurrilous letter to me on the subject, slandering and insulting me and mine-even Adela herself-so vilely, th t .I will never forgive it ! And, in the third place-that which weighs most of all with my dauighter, Ithink-young Esmonde has taken her atbher word, and, I hear, Ihas now taken up with another girl-the heiress selected for him by his father. There is not the remiotest chance of a marriage between Cap tain Esmonde and my daughter niow-of that I can assure you !' 'And do von not think that her interest in him is so deeply saated that:, her 'whole hli appiness is invclved in it1?' a : v , 'b-o-I do not. As I said before, Adela is a wominan who does not know her own mind-who never has known, it. Etery d sittor she has had has met with a refusal, k anBd,'if she were left alone, she would god on is like that " to tho end of the chapter; but, once married, she would settle down and d he contented enough.' b. 'She does nob give me the impression of vacillation or indecision,' observed Mr. e Blunt, in a tone of dissent. ae 'Oh, she is not weak-minded-it: isn't d that i She can be firm enough when she his e once made up her mind to a thing. i ist over k conscientiotisness that is her fault-and, let a me tell you,that is not a had fault in a wife. It s she were married to you,' she woul'd consider it her duty to devote herself entirely to you; and I don't think you would hive to complain g of her. She has been well drilled, if ever a o girl was, and she is good and unselfish ; and, if you were kind to her-as I know you is would be-she would very soon learn to love , you. I csn assure you you would be lucky n in your wife!' e, ' I know that,' said Mr Blun', the blood t rushing to his face at the images called up a by the Earl's matter-of-fact and practical if speech. Lady Adele his wife--a dutiful it devoted wife-loving him for the kindness e with which he would treat her ! Kindness! 'h it was not the word of ihe devotion with . which he would try to make up for the trials e of her past. It was the desire of his heart >f that was being laid before him in such grim e business-like fashion-a desire which hadl 1. becomeo more intense since its apparent *t frustration. And the r;e lisation now seemed' k within his grasp. Why should he' hesitatel Lord Castlehurst went on to speak of y Adela's delicate state of health, and of the y advice which had been given that she would winter abroad ; and, while he was regretting ,. his inability to follow it, Mr Blunt's mind d Was made up. With a lover's readiness to d take alarm, he thought that the Earl did not S. attach sufficient importance to the symptoms e- that he referred to so lightly ; and the notion it that he either could nob or would not take d steps to avert the danger of further mischief f filled his hearer with apprehensions and )f indignation. le It was cle r to Mr Blunt that the care of n which Lady Adela stood most in need must not be expected from her own people. She , ought not to be exposed to the rigor of the n coming winter, the Earl said; she should not e if he sould prevent it. He would make e anobther efforb to win her for himself; and, as n soon as they were married he would take her t abroad. He flushed at the thought. , 'If you think there is any chance for me,' d he said abruptly, ' I should like to repeat my I offer. I know there is the risk, even should b she consent to marry me, that she would be giving me her hand without her heart; but I would chance that. If she once became h my wife_-'
' The love would come with the babies,' h interposed Lord Castlehursb, with. a grim lauh. ' I think you can count on that.' d The Earl saw that the object of his .visit , was gained, and he was delighted, with a 9e suocss that was beyond his hopes. o " Faint heart nevert won fair lady," you know,' he said encouragingly. ' I cannot guarantee you success, of course. I could not in any way force my daughter against is her inclination; but I think I can almost e promise you that, after I have had a talk ) with her and pub the p',si.ion fairly before e her, her answer will be satisfao'ory. I will . sound her on the subject to-night; and unless it you hear from me to the contrary. you had .r better come to see her to-morrow afternoon is between four and five. Iam sure you mutnu e be anxious to have the matter settled with i as little delay as possible. And, indeed, it is , desirable on all accounts.' d On this point Lord Castl-hurst had gauged ie the state of Mr Blunt's feelings correctly; n no young lover could have been more fever r, ishly impatient of delay and uncertainty; e and he assented eagerly to the arrangement: o His conscience was uneasy no the thought of I the pressure that would probably be brought to bear upon Lady Adela in the interview r. contemplated by the E irl,,and the disclaimer ingeniously thrown in was not enough to blind him ; but.he did not. raise an objection or utter any rd?nonabrance. ". ' It will be the best for her in the en:d,' he >. said to himself, ?s he:paced resbles?ly up and down' the room after his visitor was gone.
oft will be only one more instance of the p prossion which she has suffered from all her life; and I will make the end justify the I means. A. mistress here, her life shall he very diffirent!' He wandered through the suites of splendidly-furnished rooms, picturing the grace and charm that would bet added to them by her presence. The drawing.roenm was a magnificent apartment, filled with beautiful things, which were in good taste as well as costly ; but, with all its sumptousness, there was something wanting that wqs not absent from the old-fashionrd reception-rooms itt Castlehurst, bare and barrack-like though they Were in comparison; and, at the thought of bringing Lady Adela to his home to supply that want, Jonathan Blunt felt his pulses quicken and his face glow. He had beensa lonely m n all his life, for the sister who had kept house for him had not teen much of a companion to him. His time had been so much occupied in his business and in kindly good offices for other people-more numerous than any one knew-that he had not felt his loneliness much ; but, when his sister had married and left him, he had decided that it was time for him to seek a wife. He had set about his quest in busine-s like fashion and withoutany ideas of romance; but now his heart was filled with a strong overwhelming ptasion, and for the first time in his life he knew what love was. ' It is worth any cost-any risk,' he said aloud. ' I must win her.'. The Earl had succeeded in his mission, and he returned to Castlehurst feeling well 'atis fled. It only remained for him to bring home to Adela a sense of the duty incumbent upon her; but in doing this he anticipated some little difficulty. They were dining alone that night; and after dinner, to Adela's surprise, Lord Castle hurst came to her in the library,.to which she always repaired whlen there were no visitors to be entertained in the drawing. I room. " ' Adela, I want to speak very seriously to you,' he began, and she knew. what was coming. His manner was unusually gentle bnd kind for him; and lie put before her telnpersately as well as convincingly the reason+ which 'mmddeb him desire to see her ,married; but, he reserved his trump-cards until the last. :'- You know, vAMddla, that it won't do for you to go wearing the willow on account of that Upbti Esmonde. You have heard that he has. consoled himself with someone else. Very well, and putting him out of the question do you know anyone you prefer to Mr Blunt I am sure you do not, and I certainly do not f know of anyone who is more likely to make you happy.' ' Papa, I think I ought to tell you-hedid ask me to marry him. But I' could not feel towards him as I ought, I tried to, but 1 c.,ul nob-aVid I refused him.' ' I'k'now yo: did ; and very foolish and wrong it was. But his attachment to you r is so sincere and deep that he cannot get over it ; and he is as devoted to you as ever. He will very likely ask you again. And T warn ,you, Adele, that if you throw . away this chance you will never have another like it I T would be perfect madness, and it would be selfishness as well. If you do not. mirry during my life time your sister will" never come home; but, if you do so now, I should have her home, and she should take your place here.' To all the other arguments that the Earl I hid advanced Adela h-d listened in impassive hut by no means acquiescenh silence. She had said nothing when he had spoken 'of C iltain Esmonde's faithlessness, though the colour had mounted to- her face, but at this reference she was stirred out of her usual silence. 'Do you really .mean that ', she said t earnestly. ' 'Yes-- do. With you wellOrtirried;.1 7 sh;'uld have no object iný2keepin ,her out of the way any' longer; 'and gshe shotsld car tainly come hom-. I promise you that.' S'Poor Bessie I' broke from Adela's lips. * Has her long hbnishmenbtbeen. caused by i me, then ' By your perversity in refusing every eligible offer that has ever been made to you-undoubtedly. I should have had her home long ago if you had been settled ; and in all probability site herself would have F been happily mariied by this time. She is i young enough yet, and she may still find a husband, if you don't go on procrastinating until it becomes too late. I tell you Adele, both on her account and on your own, th it it 4 is your duty to marry ; and this is a match Swhich offers so many advantages that you Shave no business to heaitate.' 'I will think about it,' said Adela in .a ,tonu of agitation which showed how much r she had been moved ; and though she would not commib herself by any promise, her Sfaither left her with the satisfactory convinc Stion that his arguments were not wasted SHe wrote a note, to be taken to Mr Blunit a hy a mounted messenger early the nex~i" morning, and though brief, i's tenor was Sreassuring. ' Come as arranged.. You.- wi find I was
right, - You, truly, 'CdiA L1oURST.'" b ie'sid nothing 1to .&e.a to ' rep re her for Mr; Blunt.s' coming; and she was there fore surprised when, about an hour after luncheon, he.' was shbowir i?to-the 'library, where she was sitting writing. She was not I prepared to f ice him so soon. Notwith standing her efforts to guin a victory over herself, which had cost her a sleeplese nighb, she was still in an Agony ofV doubt and in decision, and her face- burned. white as marble as she realised bhat she would now have to come to a decisioni- - I