Chapter 31365747

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Chapter NumberXX.--Continued.
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Full Date1898-06-11
Page Number4
Word Count3138
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleQueanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)
Trove TitleLove's Conquest
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LOYE'S CONQUEST. CHAPTER XX:--Oontinued. The temptation was strong, and the struggle that went on in his mind as he stood silent in the embasure of the window was a sharp one. He had said at the be ginning of his wooing that Lady Adela should nob be urged to accept him against her will ; but now the circumstances were changed. She had become dearer than any thing else in the world, and the thought of giving her up was almost too bitter to be endured. He was roused-from the reflection, alter nately angry, sorrowful,, passionate, and resentful, which surged in his brain by the sound of Adele's soft voice. - 'Mr Blunt, I have to go up to my fbther ; he expects me at this time of the morning. Bot, before I leave you, I hope you will say one word of forgiveness tA me. I am so grieved and unhappy to have been the cause of giving pain to such a kind heartb as yours I I cannot tell you ho~v sorry I am ' Her hands were tightly clasped together, and the tears which had been in her eyes brimmed over and fell in heavy drops. She looked heatt-broken ; and, strangely affected by her emotion, Mr. Blunt came quickly to her side. ' You have no right to throw me over like this !' he said hoarsely. -' If there were any chance of your ever being united to the man of your choice it might be my duty to sub mit to this change at the eleventh hour. But, humanly speaking, there is none ; and I will not allow you to do what will wreck your life as well as my happiness I I refuse to give you up ! I hays your promise, and I hold you to it !- If necessary I Will invoke your father a authority to make you keep itl' ' No, Mr Blunt. you will not do that; you are too kind, too generous I I know you will not ! And, when you think it. over, you will not wish fur an unwilling wife.' Adela's gaze met his unflinchingly ; and, as she spoke she was quietly drawing off the diamond ring from her finger. ' I will not take that ring back-I will nob i' declared Mr Blunt, in a voice which 'trembled with the earnestness of his resolu tion. 'Keep it on ; you are not to take it off I' But, before he could prevent her, she had silently put the ring down upon a smell ebony table that stood near. There the little circlet lay, the diamonds sparkling and flashing like stars in the sun shine ; and the two people to whom it meant so much stood looking at it in silence. They were disturbed by the sound of ap proaching footsteps ; cud the words which Mr Blunt was about to utter die I away on his lips as he saw a (ook of- apprehension flash into Adela's face. In an instant be knew that she was in his power ; and the temptation which had assailed him was a real one. With the -<Viscount's, aid' she might yet be his. Should. he take advan tage of it 1 The ring lying on the table would tell the whole :story in a moment. -A?tela's agonised glance rested on - it for _a moment. and was then fixed upon the door as it opened. Lord Tressilian thrust his head'into the ,room. S' I say, shall I he de trop ' ' he inquired with a laugh. He wilked in without any invitation; but the ring no longer lay on the table. Mr Blunt's feelings were too fine to allow him to expose a woman he loved to persecu tion, and he seized the ring as the handle of the door- was turned. It vasi now safe in his pocket, and hey was stooping to pick up an illustrated paper that had fallen on the car pet ; bot Tressilian saw nothing which was not to be accounted for by the interruption of an unwelcome visitor, and he started to rally them upon - their silence'- and con fusion. ' You can't he allowed the whole day for spooning I' he said. ' Adela, the governor is is fuming himself into a red-hot fever : you better go up. I'll entertain Blunt till you come 'back. You'll stay to luncheon won't you, Blunt 1' Mr Blunt's iefusal was decided. ' No-I must leave at once ; I cannot stay a minute I' he said hurriedly. And from the expression of his face rather than the 'short disconnected sentences; Adela saw that he was resigning and shielding hier at one and b:.e same time. ' Good-bye, Mr Blunt]t' she said softly as she gave him her hand ; and as she retutned his pressure, there was a look in her eyesu he

hid dever seen there before. It thrilled him es then, and the remembrance of ib lingered at with him to the day of his death. al I F re Lord Tieasilian had driven into Bridge- si ford, le.ving word that he would not be back tc for dinner. The Earl was kept to his room ir by an attack of gout; and Adela sat alone in the library, ostensibly writing letters, but hi in reality keteping watch upon the window I the approach through the parts. h It was a bright afternoon, the sunlight fN streamed through this window, making the a recess which it formed a pleasant and cosy bl nobk. It was here that Captain Esmonde w had sat tete-a-tete with Adele on that well tl rememberedl occasion that see,med years, not it monhhs, ago. He would be here again this I afternoon. Adela felt certain that he would a come; and almost every moment she glanced ' up at a point of the broad drive, which was a the main approach from Bridgeford, and was a visible from the window. C She had given orders to the servant to -dmib no one but Captain ; but it was not by a a servant that he was shown in. As she r directed her last letter she became aware of t soen-one standing looking in at the window, a and glancing up she saw Denyt sabnding I outside in the sunlight, regarding her with I laughing eyes. ' May I come in'1' he asked. And, without waiting for an answer, he unlatched the window and walked into the room. ' I am afraid it's irregular,' he remarked deprecatingly. ' But I thought it would save a.lot of trouble and inconvenience if I announced myself. And I thought you would be here, so I came round through the garden. Adela, my darling, you look as if you were glad to see me. I really belive you are. It's all right, then I' The welcome in her eyes was indeed un mistakeable, and, yielding to a temptation that was. too strong to be resisted, he put his arm round her waist, and drew her to him, and pressed a kiss upon her lips. ' Nonsense. Adela, you are mine I I know it from your face,' he said, as a faint remon strance escaped her. ' Now tell me what has been settled. I know Mr Blunt has been here.' S' Poor Mr Blunt-he has been generous and self-sacrificing. He seemed to feel it r even more than I had feared,' replied Adele, . sitting down obediently on the window sill, x which Denya had pointed out as affording a b most convenient place for him to sit by her s side, she told him what had passed. ' He is a good fellow, and I am heartily f sorry for him. I am sure I ought to be, s considering that what he has lost I have gained ; and I know what that is,' said Denys when she told him all 'T don't I deserve it ; hut since I have been lucky e enough to win your love, I will claim it and hold it, You are free now to become my wife; and I won't be content till I have your promise. A mere indefinite sort of v understanding is not enough; I must have a 3 solemn pledge.that would be something to go a upon in an action for breach-ol-promise !' I 'It will make you a poor man,' said Adela drawing back a little with a wistful smile. ' No-not poor, but rich. You know, Adela, the only wealth worth having is the happiness that springs from love, and that houses and estates, horses and carriages and servants, have nothing to do with that. You might have all those things if you m rried e Mr Blunt; but I don't worry myself or you ' either by supposing that you will be unwilling a to give them up !' ' You don't still think that I am mercen ary ' I am glad you have so far altered j your opinion about toe !' Adela could not k resist making the retort, speaking with e sparkling eyes and a look of mingled confi I dence and tenderness. S' Oh, Adele, don't remind rme of that base and abominable accusation ! I shall never forgive myself; but you se., Adela, I am a making amends for it by my confidence in a you now I You have forgiven me, haven't you 1 If you really have, you won't say anything more about the sacrifice of my fortune. That is settled, then.' e ' But your father,' said Adele-' the break with him;l' 1 'Is done, and cannot be undone. It · cannot be helped. T am sorry to go against him; but I have a right to choose my own t wife. Yo.t will have to break with your , people too; but that cannot be' helped either.' ' It is different for me,' said Adele, with a , sigh. 'There are not the same close ties; and, now that I have no longer my poor t Bessie's welfare to think of, there-is no one · for the consequences tl fall heavily upon. You know that it was fr her sake that. I consented to that engagement.' 'I know; but you might have counted on me. She should have had a home with us SYour sister would have bIeen my sister; and we would haveo done our,best to make up to a her for unkindness in the past. My poor a Adela, I know how much your tender heart Smust have suffered through the harshness and injustice dealt out to her; and now for her to be snatched away just when you were I hoping that a happier time had come for her

-- But don't cry, my darling-- cannot hear to see you cry ; she is at rest now !' Adela's eyes had filled with tears at the Grab words of real sympathy she had heard since her sister's death. The conclusion of the outside world that the removal ?f a burden c in he nothing but a relief had made people regard the death of Ltdy Elizabeth e more as a blessing than a loss, and only con siderations of decency had prevented them from saying so. The gneral conviction was apparent enough. and it had added childish ,f associations, the bitter-sweet memories of common joys and sorrows in the p ist, the n numberless links that go to constitute the Ssbrone bond of si-terh',od. How were they to understand thb sense of failure and dis n appointment involved in the sudden extinc o tion of hope 4 A life under a cl ul hid been blotted out, and people said comfortably that it was at happy release. No one had r understood, no one had sympalbhised, and Adele had shut up her grief in her own u heart; but love madre Captain Esmonde's II voice clear, and his sympathy was inexpress ibly sweet to her. She gave him her hand gratefully ; and he held it as she gave him the promhise that y he required with a definiteness and distinct ness that was entirely satisfactory. *b Presently he began to talk of his plane for e the future, and to discuess ways and means in d a practical fashion' that showed that he had not been acting recklessly. Adele said that she would nob mind living in a cottage with d him, and would be willing to do all the work Sherself; but he answered, with a laugh, that

she would not be reduced to so lowly a co state. And then he explaimed that he had so already taken steps for exchanging into a en regiment in which his pay would not be swallowed up by expenses, and that he hoped to get a staff appointmant that would su increose his income very m terially. gc ' We shall not be absolute paupers, I hope,' at he said, with a smile; 'for, besides my pay, I ought to get a good round sum for my ,' horses and pictures and other effects. Mby in father has always made me a mobt liberal in allowance, even for such means as his; and, though I have not put any money by-1 el wish I had !-I have something to show for the money I have spent. I lucki'y invested f. in a shooting-box i, Scotlani last year; and I've got a pretty little place at Maidenhead, and a yacht and some really good pictures. These, brought to the hammer, will bring in a pot of money ; and I expect we will have ft altogether about seven hundred a year. fi Can we manage on that do you think 1' 'Of course we could!' replied Adela, I deeply touched by the devotion and unselfish- d ness that made him lose sight altogether of the sacrifices he was making. ' And, if it is any help, I have a few thousands that were my mother's. It brings me in about a hundred a year, and I have spent it on dress and little expanses of my own. It is not much, but it is a great deal more than I shall need now.' 'That is good I When one counts or.e's t income by hundreds, an extra one "makes a good deal of difference, I fancy. Eight hundred a year I Of course it sounds absurd I compared to what we have both been used to; but there aro lots of people who have s much less, and look how hsppy and comfort C able they seem to be I' 'Yes-so long as you don't care about fashion. Think of all the clergy-and their n families ! How little they, have ! I know s Mr. Thompson, our clergyman, has only a, about three hundreds.a year; and nothing could be more comfortable than the parson. w age. I think I could manage as well as Mrs i- Thompson.' s ' I have no doubt you would-much n better !' declared. Denys adoringly; and he listened with intense delight to a picture is which Adels drew of a charming little house it and well-ordered " menage" which left a, nothing to be desired. 1, 'It would not be poverty at all; but, oh,' a she concluded, with a sigh, 'it is much too sr good to hope for. It will never come to' ly 'Ib must-it shall. And, look here, a, Adels, my darling-why should we not make re sure of each other while we can 1 There is d nothing to wait for except the fuss and 'b opposition that your relatives are sure to :y raise. L't us get quietly married without d saying anything to them. Then they would iy be spared a great deAl of unnecessary worry re and agitation, and we shoult feel safe. I'll of go up to L'-ndon and get a special license, a an l then we can be married at once.' o But Adela' would nob hear of this. She felt that she, of all girls, must be careful to Ia do nothing unusual or unconventional; and, seeing that she was not to be persuaded, , Denys had to relinquish the idea. e ' You forget, sir,' stad Adela playfully, it 'that licenses are an unnecessary expense, d and we are nob going in for unnecessary' iu expenses. Such recklessness of expenditure ad would never fit in with the small villa and nu et-cateras." g ' Oh, de ir, this is terrible !' he exclaimed, with a laughing glance and a sign of mock n- dismay. ' Have I got to learn to be so >d careful of every p ltry five-pound note .? t Never mind, you are a financier, I see, and th you shall manage the money-matters I' fi- The afternoon was waning, and dusk was stealing into the room. Through the win' ie dow the last red glow of the tading sunset ar was visible above the swelling uplands of the m park, and against this background the fig tn ures of the lovers made a picture that an 't artist would have longed to paint. y Lord Tressilian had not an artistic eye, ty hut, entering the room unobserved, he saw the picture, an-l was struck dumb by the sk eight. He had returnad home earlier than he had intended, and, he tring the sound of [t voices in the library, he had softly opened at the door and looked in, expecting to see Mr n Blunt. But that was not Mr Blunt who was ir with Adela-that tall figure with broad d shoulders, that blond head, that gay ]augh I It was certainly a lover who was a with Adeln, but one who was very unlike a; Jonathan Blunt. Those long legs could r belong only to Captain Eimonde ! But e what did it mean I What was he n. doing hIere with the manner and in I the attitude of an accepted lover Efe was holding her hand in hie and looking n into her face with worship in his eyes ; and s she-Adela-who had only a few hours d since seemed so devoted to Mr Blunt, was to blushing and smiling and looking young and r blissful as she had never done 'befote. r ' What on earth does it mean 1' the Vis a count asked himself, but not aloud. Such r an opportunity for judging from personal e observation was not to he lost ; and he r stepped within the shadow of the curtain, t making no sound,