|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Love's Conquest|
LOVYE'S CONQUEST. -OCHAPTER XXVII.--Continued. The young lady assumed a rather dubious air; she did not look as if she anticipated much pleasure from a visit to Lady Adele ; but two'days indoors had m ide her feel some what tired of unmitigated friendship and crewels, and, since no alternative offered itself, she decided that a change o? any sort would be desirable. She offered no objection theretore, and in half an hour the two ladies were driving along the green winding lanes that led to Moreton. As they turned in at the lodge-gates and swept along the gravelled drive under the dripping trees, their talk was about Lady Adele, who had been the subject of conversation all the way. 'Do you suppose,' said the young lady, Sthat the quarrel will be made up now I Do you think that Sir Patrick h ts come round, and forgiven everything ' 'It looks like it-doesn't it 7' answered Mrs Hilton. ' But I have heard that Lady Adela keeps almost entirely to a couple of rooms upstairs; and one of my maids, who is eng.aged to one of the servants there, tells me that Sir Patrick has never been to see his daughter-in-law since the accident. You see he.did not know who she was then, and he could not very well help himself when she was dying at his gates, so to speak. Oue can't tell, of course, how it may turn out; but it seems as if circumstances would almost force him into a reconciliation.' ' He wrote to Lord Castlehuret that in no circumstances and on no conditions would he ever forgive his son if hem ,rried Lady Adela; and he vowed that if he did he would leave every shilling of his fortune away from him. I should think, from all you have told me of Sir Patrick, that it would take a great de ,l to force him into a reconciliation.' ' That is true. He can, be perfectly inexor able; but, as my husband s iys, he is an odd mixture of prejudice and good sense, and you can never be sure what he will Jo. Every thing depends upon the way lie takes a thing at first; and, if Lldy Adela made a good impression up.n him, it would be just like him to veer round, and then nothing he could do would be enough to mike amends. I should not be in the least surprised if we were to have her settled here permanently after this.' The young lady looked around at the beautiful old country seat, the spreading woods, the perfectly ordered shrubberies, and the stately old manor house standing in the midst of a broad expanse of velvety lawn and wooded park. 'It's a lovely place,' she said with an almost imperceptible sigh. ' What charming shady walks, and what lovely lawns. It is just the place for garden parties ; but, if Lady Adele becomes mistress here, it will all be wasted. The Collingwoods never had any idea of their duties to society; and of course she is accustomed to the disreputaible set that .her brother consorts with. It does seem at pity.' Further comments were out short by their arrival at the front door. The white-headed btbler showed them into the library, where three people were sitting-Sir Patrick in his easy chair, Lidy Adela opposite, and near her Maisie Neville, looking very much at home. ' Mts Hilton and Miss Throgmorton,' announced the old butler, and at the sound of the second name the smile with which Sir Patrick had been listening to Maisie's animated talk, disappeared from his face. He looked at the tall handsome, girl with a cold disapproving gaze; but the young lady was rather dense, and she took a chair by his side, quie unconscious of the feeling with which he regarded her. Adela was genuinely glad to see Maude, and received her warmly, asking eagerly for home news; but Mrs Hilton, in whom a preconceived idea was undergoing rapid correction, soon engaged Lady Adela in con versation, and Maude was left to talk to Sir Patrick. She disposed herself to be amiable and agreeable ; but she found the Baronet a singularly inappreciative listener, and her flippant remarks upon the weather ian&other commonplacer, which were intended to be amusing, fell painfully flbt. ' You have never been he a before, I think 1' said Sir Patrick, breaking .a pAuse which was becoming awkward. 'No,' said Maude, mistaking the drift of question ' What a beautiful old place it is l Captain Esmnonde had described it to. iime ; but I had no idea it was so lovely. I suppose Lt?dv Adela and he will be here a good deal now t1 '
Sir Patrick made no reply, and looked so s frigid that Maude hesllated before she put t the next ques'ion; but she was curious to b know how matters stood, so she said, after v a pause ' Oap ain Esmoude goes on with his duties D at Pinehurst, doesn't he ? I suppose he a won't give up his house there ? When does f Ladv Adela think of returning 1' 'I don't know,' replied Sir Patrick ; and his tone and manner became so freezing th it s Maude was forced to subside. She was becoming so uncomfortable that she longed v to escape, and it was a relief to her when Mirs Hilton rose to go. ( ' I hope we shall really see something of c you now,' that warm-hearted impulsive young lady said, as she took leave of Lady Adela. 'You won't be leaving just yet ?' 'Not just yet, perhaps ; but I think I must be home very soon,' answered Adela avoiding Sir Patrick's glance. ' If you are coming up to Pinehurst to see the polo, I hope you will come and see me. And do bring Maude, if she is staying with you.' The invitation w is eagerly accepted, and Mrs Hilton went away evidently intending 1 to profit by it. Adela took Maude's cold limp 'hand in hers and looked wistfully into Maude's cold self-satisfied face. At that moment Maude seemed a link with the past with which Adela had so utterly broken, and she bent forward and kissed her ' Good-bye.' Miss Throgmortonwas not the girl to have given way to self-reproach ; but she did feel some slight misgiving as she drove away and listened to her friend's enthusiastic remarks about Lady Adela. 'Why, Maude, she is positively chnrming! She is not a bit like what I imagined from your description. I thought she would be loud and fast and mannish ; but she is the very opposite. How can you dislike her ? She is so sweetly pretty.' Maude's lips curled superciliously at this application of her friend's favourite expres sion. ' It was a sw.,etly-prebly frock she had on,' she replied-' I'll grant that ! ' 'I thought her alto4ebher charming 1' said Mrs Hilton enthusiastically. ý' I was surprised and delighted ; and sio, I am sure, Sir Patrick ought to he ! I feel quite sorry that such a happy misunderstanding should have arisen ; and I do hope it will be cleared away now I 'I don't know why you should be so particularly interested in it !' observed Maude, rather pettishly. Well, do you know, I feel the least little hit guilty of having . made mischief in the matter. On the day that I gobt your letter, telling me of the engagement =and :the drawbacks in her f mily, I ha I to call 'onf Sir Patrick ; and a-mehow or other 'I let slip something about it. I had no idea that I should raise such a storm. He waq so furiously angry that I was quite frightenied. He insisted 'upon herring all that I knew, and of course I could not give a very pleasant fir.t impression, which was unfor tunate as things turned out.' 'Did you tell him th at it was through me that you had got your informition;l'' asked Maude quickly. ' Well. yes-he found it out. Sir Patrick is like an old inquisitor ; if he' once gets on the scent, there's no eluding him till he has wormed out of you all that you know, Not that he would think of connecting you in any way--' ' Wouldn't he V' interrupted hMaude angrily. 'Oh, Annie, that was horrid of you I That accounts for the way in which Sir Patrick behaved to me this afternoon. I could see that he could not bear me ; and, of course he will have told Oaptain Esmonde, and he will hate me too I Annie, how die. gusting of you I It's simply the "most abominable breach of confidence I ever knew. I should never have believed that you would have been guilty of it.' Mrs Hilton naturally was roused to defend herself. She retorted with some heat that, had she gueseed the ace unb was a spitful one she would have been the last person to have repeated it; and by the time the two ladies had reached home a pretty little quarrel had developed, which led to .t serious breach between the friends, and biought Maude's visit to a speedy termination. After the two ladies left Moreton the trio in the library settled down again into peace ful discourse, and Sir Patrick breathed more freely. Maisie at length rose to go ; but she sat down again, detained by a glance from Adela. Adela had left her room for the first time to day; and it was unlucky for her tliat after carrying her downstairs in triumph Denys had been called away to Pinehurst. Dismayed at the prospect of facing Sir Patrick alone, Adela had rejoiced at the appearance of Maisie, who had been several times up to lher room to see her; and her presence was scarcely lesm of a relief to Sir Patrick. A bright fire, that seemed-cheerful and inviting on this wet afternoon, was burning on the hearth, and Sir Patrick sat in front of ib ir. his big arm-chair, listening to Maisie'a
talk and occasionally joining in. The two girls sat close together; and, looking at them, Sir Patrick was suddenly struck by the remarkable contrasb that they made. Maisie's fac-, charming antd winsome though it was, was irregular in feature, and her naturally dark skin was browned by the wind, and ruddy with health, her bright dark eyes sparkled vivaciously, and her figure was more sturdy than graceful. Adele was leaning back in her chair in a pose which betrayed the lingering langour of i illn as, but which was full of an unconscious, and p iahetic grace. Her complexion had the exquisite delicacy and purity of tint which is noticeacale during convalescence, and her lovely eyes were like deep wells of light and º color. She looked strikinglyfragile ; hubber I pure Madrlonna-like beauty had never been Smore striking, and Sir Patrick recognise.l with a sigh how natural had been his son's a choice. The features of hit favorite Maisie were extremely lovable; but Lady Adela's sweet face was lovely as well as lovable, and r her beau'y possessed a charm that appealed I with especial force to Sir Patrick. H- became very silent towards the end of the afternoon, and the two ladies had the con. versation almost entirely to themselvos. Mlsisie had to go at last, and she kissed f Adela imprulsively as she said 'Good-bye.' I Her interest in her new friend had grown upon acquaintance; and Adela responderd z warmly, the sudden glow at her heart bring I ing the color into her cheeks and a tender ness into her eyes. She alung to Malsis as
she had never done to Maude all the years that she had known her; and it was the beginning of a friendship of sisterly closeness which lasted all their lives. ' Isn't she charming 1 Isn't she a dear ' Malnai exclaimed impetuously to Sir Patrick, who accompanied her through the hall to the front door. ' Oh, Sir Patrick, I never imn-ined sho would be like that. Did you T' ' No-I didn't,' Sir Patrick replied, with a sigh ' You take to her, then 1' ' Who could help it ' She is the sweetest woman I have ever seen-so lovely and so ,eorl, so gentle and so true. No wonder Captain Esinonde is devoted to her. He cares for nothing else in the world in com parison with her ; and neither should I, if I were a man and had won such a wife I You will love her too when you know her, dear Sir Patrick-I know you will l' ,! The girl's ardent admiration won a smile from her old friend, but, as he watched her run lightly down the avenue and disappear among the trees, he wondeetl whether she had ever divined his wish concerning her which had been one cause of his opposition to his son's marriage. Her sweet unconsciousness decieved him, and he concluded that she had not. But she would not hive been a woman if she had not seen through Sir Patrick's transparent little devices, and she had often smiled to herself over them; but the pereieption had increased the warmth cf her affection for her old friend, and had given to it something of a daughter's tenderness. The estrangcy-nt between Sir Patrick and his s m hal been a great trouble to her, and she hxd longed to do something to bring them together. Now circumstances seemed to h ve brought about whit she had so earnestly desired ; and Maisie went home rejoicing in the cedrbirtty that a happy denouement was ab hand. As she tripped , homewards through the woods, she was singing like a bird, and her face was as bright as if it ha'i been her own future from which she saw the clouds rolling away.