|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
OHAPTER XIX. The Oastlehurab woods were still in the full glory of their late autumnal beauty.; but there was a subtle scent of damp and decay that betokened the decline of the year and left a soft subdued melancholy to the repose that reigned in rhe woods. Captain Esmonde, who bad arrived at Bridgeford but an hour before, was already on his way to Oastlehurst, and lie was breasting the steep ascent with long swing ing strides; but, as he came within sight of the park gates, he slackened speed and paused to look around. He appeared to be feasting his eyes on the beauty of the view ; but, if they rested upon the rich colors of the thickly-wooded slopes an I the silvery river that ran in the valley below, it was with an absent gaze that might as well have been directed down a coal pit for all the satisfaction he derived from it.. He was not thinking of the scenery-he was con sidering what was his best plan of action. The overwhelmning impulse that had, actuated him in coining here this afternoon was simply the longing to be within reach of Lady Adela, to be on the spot, and see her for himself ; but, now that he had come, he was not quite clear how to accomplish his object. He might of course go up to the house and ask to see Lady Adela ; but the chanceq of his seeing her alone were not in his favour, and he did not desire an inter view with the Earl or Lord Tressilian., While he hesitated-the fever of longing and impatience which had possessed him giving place to a reactionary sense of dis couragement and despondency-he descried some one coming round the bend of the broad gravelled drive inside the park. A woman carrying a small basket was coming down the bill-one of the Oastlehurst maids, very likely, who was walking into town on some errand. Perhaps he might learn some, thing from her. Short-sighted though he was, Denys could see from a distance that her appearance had the stamp of fashion and ladylike elegance ; and, as she was dressed in blakc, he thought that she might be Lady Adela's own maid. But, when she had passed through the lodge-gates, a nearer view made him aware of a grace and dis tinction in the approaching figure he saw that made his heart beat fast. No lady's maid ever looked or walked like that ! it was Lady Adele herself ; and, in the tumult of conflicting feelings, Denys quickened his pace and strode up the hill to meet her. Adela was not short-sighted, and she had seen and recognised him a long way off. She walked towards him with a vivid colour rising to her face and her senaes in a state of wild confusion ; but she had had time to gain outward composure before he came up to her. ' Captain Esmonde !' she exclaimed as they met; and, though her greeting was conventional enough, the glance of her eyes and the sound of his name on her lips filled him with rapturous delight. ' I did not know you were in the neighborhood again I '
He took the small black-gloved hand that was held out to him and gazed earnest ly into her face. He saw the brilliant color in his cheeks and the irrepressible welcome in her eyes, and the thrill of hope and gldness sent the blood coursing wildly through his veina. ' I only came this morning,' he said, with a joyousness for which there was no' ostensible justification. ' I was coming up to see y u. Is-ore your people at home?' ' I think so. At least I am not quite sure. Treasihian may be nut this afternoon, but the will be back soon,' Adele answered, scarcely knowing what she was saying. 'Are you on a visit to the Throgmortons 1' ' No ; I am staying at the " Swan " in Bridgeford at present. The Throgmortons do not know I am here. I came down rather suddenly. Lady Adels, you do not look at all strong. You are not so well as you were when I wes here last. Ought you to be out on a damp day like this with that cough ? ' As the bright carmine tint that had risen to her cheeks through the surprise of seeing him died away, he observed the altered looks -the worn expression of her face and the' dark circles which gave an unnatur il.. .bhfl liancy to her eyes ; and the sound "of her short dry cough filled him with an anxiety f that he could not repress. f Adela was not now so unaccustomed to I find herself the object of anxious care and solicitude as ahe had - been, a few weeks before; but all Mr Blunt's devotion had a never been able to call up the vivid blush` f that came back into her face under Oaptain Esamonde's gaze. I 'I have not been very well ; but I am , all right again now,' she said hastily. 'There. t is nothing amiss with me, really; only I a don't go for long walks yet. I -was.,only b going a very little way to-day.' y ' Where are you going to ? ' 1e ' To take some fruit to the sick daughter d of one of the gamekeepers. The cobtage is te close by the woods down there.' g And Adela pointed down s picturesque little lane with a high bank, on which there s, were overarching trees on one side,' and a moss-grown wall on the other. It forked at. re right angles out of the main road, and led td into the wood along the side of the hill. er ' Oh, then I'll come with you and carry to your basket ! ' said Denys, choosing to con Id strue her gesture as an invitation ; and, of disregarding her murmured remonstrance, s5 he possessed himself of the basket and accompanied her down the little by road. re They soon came to the gamekeeper's cot td tage, which was a picturesque little building I porched below the road on the steep elope er and overhanging a miniature ravine, at the ae bottom of which a little brook tumbled along r. with a delightful purling music all its own. at Denys said he would wait outside while in she went in ; and, when she came back, he Adela found him leaning on the wall and gazing thoughtfully down into the ravine. tis ' What a delightful out-of-the-way little d- lane this is !- he exclaimed as she rejoined rs' him. ' Where does it lead to ? Some charm 's. iug place quite out of the world, I am sure !' ig ' It leads down into the dingle at the end td of this ravine, where the brook falls over hir the rock in a sort of a minature waterfall,' rt said Adela, ' It is a charming little nook, to and it is a favourite haunt of mine.' 9i- ' Is it far !' ' Oh, no-not five minutes from here n" but--' t ; ' Oh, don't bring in a "but" I Let us go to there. Oh, Lady Adela,' Der.ys cried, as he 'as saw that she was about to refuse, ' please 6m please don't object, if the walk' is really not too much for you I I have come all the way from London to-day solely for the sake of seeing you ; and this is such an unhoped he for opportunity-to me it seems Heaven ut sent. Don't-don't deprive me-of it I' 't The meeting was as much to Adela as it was to him, and in the joy of being with him use again qhe forgot the barriers that had been raised up between them. She turned in the at direction that she wished ; ' and in the dy seclusion of the Woodland lane they walked rag side by side,. with no thought but of the 3o happiness of being together. nd [TO BE QONTINUND] be