|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
LOYVSi ,COQUES¶¶i OHAPTER XXtV. --.Oonbinued. They strolled homeward through the'dusky woods, along the narrow:paths carpetedwithr dry fir-needles; and, under the influence of Denys' irrepressible gaiety and lightness of heart, Adela :regained her usual :bright demeanour. The sad thoughts tliathd- heen called up in her mind were for a time chased away, but they returned; and- in the watches of the night, when Denys was .sleeping calmly unconscious, she lay quietly wakeful, trying t@ think of some way in which a reconcilia tion might be brought about. ' Perhaps a little child might touch his heart,' she thought-' D 'nys' little child he could not surely resist, especially if it were a boy. At any rate, there is this comfort-if anything should happen to me it would bring Denys and his father together again. But poor Denys-he would think it a heavy price to pay !' And, happy in the convicton of her husband's love, Adela fell asleep with a smile upon her face. The following day was a feld-day at Pine. hurst--n occasion for much bustle and ex ciemrenb; It was a lovely summer day, not too hot or too dusty-just the day for marching and counter-marching, as Denys observed at breakfast, .. It was the custom for the ladies of the place to drive to the scene of;operations and spend the day there, and Adela had been invited to join more than onrie iatby ; bu' Denys thought that the long day would te too fatiguing for her, and he persuaded her to stay at home. He was to be away all day ; and, after he had ridden off, shite felt rather lonely. Every body had gone to see the review, and the place seemed empty and deserted. Adela made up her mind that she had before her a long quiet day which would afford her an opportunity for clearing off arrears of work, and she set to with a will. The morning wore away, and, engrossed in th. arrange. ment of some pretty draperies in- which she was putting the last stitches, Adela looked up in surprise when her maid-the faithful Jennings-appeared with a letter which had' come by the mid-dlay post. ' Has the pose come in already 1 I had no idea it was so late !' she said, opening the letter. 'Oh, dear, what a nuisance-! What shall I do 1' The letter was addressed to Denys ; but he had no secreta from her, and she had no hesitation in opening it. She saw that it was from a business firm in London, and was a vexatious matter that demanded im mediate attention. She stood in the middle of the room debating with herself what had letter be done. Denys was not to be got at until the evening, and telegraphing was out of the question, as there were pros. anid cons. to be discussed. Adela knew that she was quite capable of managing the affair-she had a better business head than Denys, who always deferred to her in such matters-and she came to the conclusion that the best plan would be for her to go up to town and s-e to 'the matter personally. ' Iwill start directly after luncheon,' she said aloud, ' and then I shall be back by the seven-o'clock train, before Oaptain -:is-home from the review.' ' Had I better not go with you, my I .dy 1' asked Jennings, who had been awaiting her mistress's decision. '-The master would not like you to go by yourself.' 'I'm afraid .you cannot, be >epari.d, Jen nings. 'I pr.;miseid Mary that sh?sllould go to the review this iafteinoon,andl don't like to dissappoirit her. Oh, no-I w.ll go alonel It is onlyjust there and back ;and I can not come to any possible harm.'- " Jennings still expostulated respeo fully, but her remonstrances produced no effect. Lady Adele insisted=that.she was -quite able to take cire of hersalf ;5 and' after a hurtried luncheon, she alat ted off. It was less than a couple of hours' journey to town, and, after satisfactorily .transacting her business, she found.-:that ':she- would have time;bo look in- up n -Madame de la Rivodiere and have a cup of tea before returning home. The old lady was delighted to see her, and she was beguiled into staying so much longer than she intended, that she had some d fficulty in getting back to the station in timne to catch her- train..- She just managed it however, and found a coiner seat in a carriage which recommended itself to her because there were, two ladies in it who looked -am if bhe!'. would be good aompauy to travel withb,
She leaned back in her corner as the train started, giving a sigh of relief at the pros pect of' rest fter the fatiguing afternoon, and she was congratulating herself. upon the success which had attended her expedition, when her attention was suddenly attracted by a gentleman wh. a ,t opposite to her and who was on serving her closely. He was an old man, with a distinguished bearing and ine face, and Adela did not remember that she had ever seen him before ; but his feat ires seemted a rangely familiar to her. Where had she seen those level brows, ataight featues, and the strong curve of chin and jaw 7 She returned the old man's look with a puzzl d glance ; and then in an instant the truth flashed upon her. Tie photograph that Denys had shown to her father on that memorable evening long ago, and that other which he had insisted upon taking out of the album in the drawing-room at home, ,ud which she had pub by carefully-of course, that was what he reminded her of. The resemblance was unmistakeable. Could it he that this was Sir Patrick Esmonde 1 How like Denvs he was-and yet how different ! The colouring and expression were utterly unlike, but the features were alhuost identical. It must be Sir Patrick ! While these thoughts rushed through her mind, her eyes were intently rivetted upon the face of her visa-via ; but suddenly, as crinvictid6i forced itself upon her, she saw that her look of interest had attracted his -attention, and a deep colour suffused her face. She looked away, and bec twme absorbed in the squalid suburbs they were passing through ; but while her eyes were fixed upon bsckyards and drying-lines, her thoughts -were;busy with the discovery she had just made. ..That it waq Sir Patrick who was sitting opposite to her she had no doubt-avery detail of his appearance corresponded with whliab she knew of him-and the lodger .she thought over it the more certain she ;became. What a strange coincidence it was that brought them together like this; and how little he guessed that the peraso whom he hated most in the world was so near him! As this thought struck liher, Adela glanced at him again. He had taken up a news paper, and was quietly reading it. He would never know who she was ! What would happen she wondered, if she addressed him by his name, and told him that she knew his son IJr. was one of those ideas that occur to people and atre idly entertained, without any real intention of putting them into practice. She knew that she could never really do it-the effort would be im possible to her-antd, besides, she felt that Denys would not like it. Sir Patrick might find out her identity and think that she had tried to force herself upon him. She sat quietly in her place, with her small well-gloved hands folded in her lap, and eaz'dsteadily oat of the window until the train stopped ; and then, to lier dismay, she saw that the two ladies were going to get out, and that she would be left alone with her unsuspecting father-in-law. Sir Patrick looked up from his papler i~ the train moved on, and, availing himself of an opportunity of showing a little atten tion to a fellow-traveller who struck him as a particularly charming young lady, he asked her if site would like to have the window up. ' Thank you,' Adela said, in a gentle way -' I should prefer it.' The softness of her voice and the purity of her enunciation were in accordance with the refined beauty of her face; and, still more attracted, Sir Patrick, in his most courtly manner, offered her ' Punch,' asking if she would care to see it. To his surprise, -.i was refused rather shrink ingly. ' You have ;seen it, I dare say,' he said politely; 'or perhaps you -do not care to look at papers in the train I It certainly is rather trying to the eyes.' ' Yes,' Adela murmured faintly. She could not say more without betraying the agitation which made her hands tremble and her voice shake. The consideration of the issues which might be at stake in this chance interview was overpowering . Her heart was beating violently and her face was burn ing. There was a ringing in her ears, and a mist seemed to rise before her eyes. Sir Patrick thought she was most extra. ordinarily shy, and he tried to reassure her by making a few trivial rem .rka on common placa subjects ; but Adela could not respond. She felt it was impossible to take advantage of his ignorance by allowing him to show friendliness which he would be sure to repent of as soon as he knew who she was, and she could not muster up enough courage to fly in the face of Denys's wishes and her own inclinations and declare herself. What should she say if she did '1 If, in answer to her question, 'I think you must be Sir Patrick Esmonde?' hie should reply, as she knew he would, 'Yes, I am,' what should she say next? 'I think it ii only right to tell you who I am. My name is Adela Esmonde. I am your son's wife.' What would ha look like-what would he do then 1 She imagined the sudden change in his ex pre sion, the cold blow of acknowledgement,
perhaps a stiff little sentence, I am obliged to you for the information,' and then the way in which the newspaper would-be put up as a sort cf shield to prevent his seeing her. She would rio no good by speaking, and she might do harm. Sir Patrick might be roused into saying something angry and unkind, and she would have to tell Denys, from whom she never had any secrets; and then how furious he would be ! If she had felt it right to speak, Adela would nob have spared herself ; but she was convinced that no good would come of it, and therefore she kept silence. It was a meeting that, in the safe refuge of her home she might have thought a golden opportunity and wished for trdently; but, face to f.ce wi'h Sir Patrick, she feldt it impossible to plead her own cause, and every instinct mutd her shrink from Ietraying herself. The mere ordeal of sitting opposite to him was too much for her, and for once in her life Addea was obliged to acknowledge herself a cowardl; she despised herself for it, but the strain was getting unendurable, and she felt so faint that she - wondered if she would be able to endure the suspense until the next station. Sir Patrick saw her become paler and paler, and ceame to the conclusion that illness was the reason of her strange manner. I fear you are suffering P'' he said kindly. '-Can I do anything for you I- Would-you like to put your feet on this ' He touched a small portmanteast that . was on the seat beside .him, and; bent .forward, to look anxiously into her aoe.
'No, thank you,' said Adela hastily ; and, feeling unable to endure his scrutiny, she muu mured that she did not like having her hack to the engine, and moved precipitately to the other end of the carriage. -Sir Patrick sat confounded. Watt the girl afraid of him? Could sha have so miscon strued his advances as to suppose that he intended-to be rude? He was unaccountably disappointed and annoyed. 'Confound it,' he said to himself-' she reed not have resented a little kindness and attention from an old fellow like myself. I am old enough to be her father-and might h.av b en, if th it boy Denys had had better taste. She has one of the most charming faces I have ever seen; and she reminds me -yes, that is whom she reminds me of i-olly Romer--my. first and only love ! Extraordinary that with such a sympathetic f.ce and sweet expression she should behave like that.' He resumed his paper, -bu not his reading, for his thoughts had wandered back to the far-off time of his youth, when he had courted lovely Molly Romer, the sweetest woman he had ever known. Site had I een struck down by death before he had an opportunity of declaring his love, and be had married a few years. afterwards; but the romance of his life was over and buried and his affection for his wife was a staid and sober feeling that was very different from the passionate love of his early manhood. Thirty.five-years had gone over his head since. Molly's ex quisite face had been laid low; but all his life he had been faithful .to the memory of his first love, and the sight of this shy stranger who resembled her called up vividly the im age of that vanished face. She had not the brilliant loveliness that had made Molly Romer the queen of one county and the toast of three; but her eyes were strangely like in colour and shape, and the poise of the head and droop of the mouth were exactly like Molly's ; and then that habit of clasping hnr hands-how well Sir Patrick remembered it! Just such gray gloves, and just such little h.,nda inside thgm, hatl he noticed the last time he saw Molly ; and he felt it hard th at this girl who remin ded him so strongly of that old happy time should regard him with such evident shlrinking and distrust. Thre was no'hing for it however hut to resign hiniself to the situation. He would only make a fool of himself by remonstrating ; and he hid no alternative but to maintain the silence which had been imposed upon him. He took up the newspaper with the inten tion of mastering thoroughly the sabjecb of the leading article; but he had not got very far when a diversion was occasioned by the stoppage of the train and the entrance of a third p rson. There had been some r.,ces going on in the neighbourhood, and there was a rowdy crowd on the platform which made Adela give up the idea of seeking another compartment. There was not ro tm for half the passengers in the third-clans carriages, and, when the excited crowd discovered this, they stormed the 'seconds,' and even invaded some of the Sfirsts.' The man who got into the comparb ment where Adela and Sir Patrick were seated was evidently not of their class, and his loud and flshy dtess marked him out as a sporting character of an objectionable type; hut Adela was disposed to be thankful for the appearance of any one whose presence would break up the tete-a-tete which she had found so disquieting. To her horror and dismay however the new comer soon showed a diapositi,.n to make him !self agreeable. He insisted on talking to her, and adressed her in a complimentary and admiring strain which was most offensive; and, as the most repelling demeanor on her part had no effect in checking his effursiveness, it became evident that he was strongly under the influence of drink and excitement. S r Patrick looked up from behind his newspaper with raised eyebrows, wondering how the young lady who had bren so shy of him would appreciate the stranger's behaviour. She met the fellow's remarks with chilling il nce, and her dignity and self-possession in such trying circumstances amazed Sir Patrick ; but the fact that Alela had to endure a good deal from some of her brother's friends, who, though in a higher station of life, had often been not ta whit less objection able than her present tormentor ; an'l she would have been able to, protect herself in this instance hadt she not been hamp red by other, reasons for alarm and agitation. Sir Patrick listened wih growing indigna lion to the prosecution she was undergoing; and at last Iris patience gave way, and he exclaimed angrily ' How dare you molest a lady like that1 Leave her alone !' ' I'm not mrnolesting her,' the man answered with an impudent laugh. ' Bless you, an old codger like you don't understand. I know best what the ladies like-don'tl , rny detr 1' He put out his hand as he spoke, and .was nhbott to lay it familiarly upon Adela's arm, when he was arrested he. Sir Patrick. who
sprang from hie seat anil thundered out a command that sounded like' the;,roar of an unary lion . - " ." 1 ." ' Leave her alone, sir I By Heaven, you shall got yotii deserts if you lay a finger upon that lady, or I'm not :a magistrate of this county.' Sir Patrick, in a towering rage was not 6 man to be.trifled with, and the fellow was instantly cowed. He began stamwering an apology in ah a'bj'cb manner that was in. tended to propitiate the hob tempered old gentleman ; bub Sir Patrick's 'anger was nob so easily appeased. ? . ' Be silent I' he said crushingly. *.Don't speak to me-and don't look at the lady. M1adam, if you will change places with-me, I will see that you are subjected to no further annoyance.' Ad'la, feeling as if she had fallen out of the frying pan into the fire, accpted the offer with a murmured expressin of thanks ; and Sir :P,trick seated himself opposite the offen. der, and glowered at him in threatening silence:eunil the next station was reached, and he expelled him without mercy. I' It was not until the intruder was gone and the .train in motion again thltb Sir Patrick remembered that he had omitted to take measures for bringing him to book in case it might be desirabl,. 'I ought to have taken- down his naime and address,' hq olserved regretfully. 'He deserves to get a lesson which would teach him manners for the future.'
'Oh, no,' exclaimed Adela ; ' he has been corrected severely enough B sides, I could: nob have my name mixed up in an affair of that kind. My husband would not like it.' ' Your husband,' exclaimed Sir Patrick involuntarily. ' You are married, then Z' 'Yea,' said Adela, blushing deeply, and looking implorinely 'at him. Sir Pa.trick made a couttly bow, with a smile that seemed to express his conviction that l.er husbhand was a very fortunate man whoever he might be ; hub he felt that he must not offend her again, and he only said ' May 1 ask if you live at Pinenurst 1' Adela assented--not without a tremor, for discovery seemed close at hand. 'Then. your husband has probably some connection with the S'affOollege there. Do you happen to know an officer belonging to it named EsmondeV 'Yes-I know himr very well,' replied Adela, with a steadiness that surprised herself. 'He is one of the most popular men at the college, and deservedly so. He is universally liked and respected.' The old man smiled grimly. ' And his wife-what sort of a person is she i' She raised her eyes beseechingly-her cheeks flushed, tlhen grew pale, and, anxious though he was to hear the answer, a pang went to Sir Patrick's heart as he looked at the wistful face. Adela was mute, and Sir Patrick'"waited for an answer; but it never came... As she was about to force her quivering lips to utter a mnomentuons confession, ' You see her before yon-- am Adela Eamonde !' there was a rushing. roaring sound, a frightful crash, a violent reeking and rolling, then absolute darkness and blankness.