|Chapter Number||BOOK I. X.-(Continued.)|
|Newspaper Title||Liverpool Herald (NSW : 1897 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||Marian Gonisby|
[AT.T. BIGHTS RESBBVBD.]
By E. LOIDGE,
Author of ' Father and Sou,' «The Daughters
of Eve/ ' Mystery of MerveilUeu,*'&o.
A half «sad smile crossed Maxie's face. It seemed to George that Marie had learnt to smile so of late-a sunshine of *he face, with tears not far away.
« See, I have kept' half my programme empty-for you !'
' How did you know I was coming ?'
The conversation was out short by Marian's partner for the third dance approaching and offering his arm to her.
With a glanoe whioh George understood she rose and they parted for the time being.
George was amongst the onlookers for this item. He joined a group similarly placed at the head of the hall. Strange as it seems to most people, there are individuals in every community who appear to derive as much pleasure from ' looking on' as those who dance and delight in the exeroise, and this olass are mostly oritios-born oritios.
1 Well, Whiddon, what d'yer think of it p' said Gus Batten-a oity young swell, and one of George's particular acquaintances who affected to think that the Shah of Persia was pretty near the mark when ho contended that danoing was all very well * for those engaged to do it ' for the amusement of the luxurious and privileged olasses, whose place it won to pit on soft silken divans and watch the * slaves' perform, but it was monstrous to work BO hard and o all it pleasure!
* I am British still, and nob Persian. I would not be even the Shah with his harem if it kept me from danoing to-night/
1 Is the inamorata here, Whidden P But of course Bhe ie ! Who is she, by tho way P You are very oloBe about your affairs of the heart, old fellow.'
4 With reason, GUB.'
' Tell me when she pasHes.'
And they fell to disoussing the physical charms of the youthful beauties best known
' Is not that old Gonisby's daughter dan- cing with-? Devilish pretty, isn't she P'
( A near neighbour ot yours, isn't shoP'
' See a good deal of her, eh P'
' On tho contrary, very little.* ¡ 4 Hum I Tine Htyle of girl, anyway ; and
a prize, I'm told, matrimonially considered. Tell her from me, Whiddon, when you see her, that she does honor to tho Grecian goddesses.'
It was true that George had not notioed how Marian waB attired. Thus is love blind enough in some reBpeots as to details. It was only when. Hatton made hrs observation
aa to Marian's oharaoter-oostume that Whid-
don notioed how simple, and withal how delicately beautiful and refined, were the soft white draperies whioh fell from should- ers to foot. 4 A Haffaellian study,' an /artist's model,' a 'picture for the front page of the * Queen,' ' such were some some of the good things which George was not loath to hear concerning Marian ; and he felt they were not undeserved, nor did they seem ex- travagant, seeing that in his eyes there was no one in all that vast assemblage half so winsome, nor half so entranoing, as Marian Gonisby.
Two dances more and George's waltz with Marian was due. No sooner had he relin-
quished his partner in the square danoe than he sought where T to find Marian. He did not wish td lose one step of that dance.
She was this time seated at the end of the hall, ' almost hidden by some ornamental palms. It was with Mr Benzimmon she had been engaged in the item just concluded, and he sat by her side in conversation'. Striotly speaking, in so large a gathering, it devolves upon the lady to be seated in the plaoe where she makes her engagement,
otherwise much confusion would ensue.
Marian did not forget this, nor did she for- get whose danoe it was. She waa about to suggest a removal when George appeared.
* Mr Benzimmon brought me here, Mr Whiddon.*
' It looks like hiding, I confess,' laughed that young worthy ; ' but we oame because it is oooler here. You - have sharp eyes. Whiddon.' .
' One does not need speotaoles to discover
' Good ; I surrender to Adonis !'
And Benzimmon led George to the seat he had ocoupied.
« Are you enjoying the bali V . * Very muoh, thank you.' 4 Tour father, is he here P'
' He is to come for me at 1.30.' 4 So soon P'
« I rarely stay later.' .
' But the programme will last muoh longer?'
' I daresay ; you see I declined all engage-
ments after the 14th."
* But I had hoped to have one later-the mazurka-with you.'
'Then I'm afraid you must be dis- appointed.*
'Marie, 1 see so little of you I am wretohed !'
* We will begin,'"sugflrested Marian, as the
music for the waltz commenced.
They had danoed together before ; yet how differently they were placed now. Love's mysterious mantle had been thrown over their hearts ; and this music and metion was, somehow, strangely sweet. His arm around her waist, her hand in his, how could it he otherwise than that he should
speak again of his love, though a hundred
fathers had forbidden ?
This seoond longed-for opportunity had oome. There , were 50 things he wanted to say, but in the whirl of a hall- room not very muoh in the way of conversation is possible. Yet how muoh is possible if two hearts beat as one ! George felt-felt instinctively that Marian's heart was his, and he longed to hear her say so, How should he begin ? Would she resent his taking1 advantage of the movement whioh then-as it had never ocourred to him before-was so nearly an
Involuntarily he pressed Marian's left hand: gently, almost imperceptibly, he felt the pressure returned.
'Marie, I love you-«only you; I shall never love another. Give me a woïd on whioh to live. I swear I will wait for years, if necessary.* ,
* Better that you should forget I' ' I cannot ; will not forget.' ' I am not my own.'
'You will soon be free, Marie-a year or two, and then P'
' My father will never consent.'
«Let us do without his consent. In a matter of this sort no one but yourself should deoido. Marie, say that you love me P*
'Yes, George, I do! But, alas, that I should feel like a criminal ! Take me out of the room, George, I cannot danoo any longer.'
I They retired into the refreshment room, I and George seeing how flashed and embar-
rassed Marian looked, and feeling that he
wonld give anything to be alone where nc inquisitive eyes should rest upon them begged Marian to take a glass of wino. Sh< said she would only drink a glass of water rhoy withdrew to the further end, when they were comparatively quiet. On pre- tence of surveying the supper table, thej
continued their conversation :
* Marie, you have made me the happiesi fellow in Melbourne to-night.*
4 Then I fear I have done a very foolish thing. George, you have never realised you do not know what all this means-my father has made me promise ??*
« What has he made you promise, Marie f Surely you have not made any rash pro-
* The night you oame to see him we went freely into the whole matter. I pleaded fot us, George-pleaded for myself. It was no use ; he would not hear. I desired that he would delay his departure from Australia ; it but made him the more resolved to go. And we ate leaving very soon, George.'
4 How soon i*
4 Within three weeks.*
\t this information George stood ff or a moment aghast.
* Marie, do not go !'
* I must go. My father certainly will not go without me.'
4 Marie, to lose you will be like -.losing all that there is in life. I can't endure the thought. Why should we be parted P It is oruel! Marie-listen to me, darling!-let us fly to Sydney and be married there by special license ! Then he oannot take you away from me!'
4No, George; it oannot be. If I had only' myself to consider ' I should yield oh ! so willingly, for I love you better than my life-but I have been brought up to obey my father. I oannot oross him even for your sake, George; and what I have promised, that I must do.'
* What have you promised ?'
.That I will go with him to Europe.* 4 Eor how long, Marie?'
4 That 1 oannot say. PerhapB for two years-perhaps longer. George heaved a deep sigh. Marian was not the creature to bev swayed. Her mind, once made up, was not easily altered. Having won from her her full admission of this love he so longed to possess, a great satisfaction filler!, bis soul ; yet to be parted from his love, so soon as he knew that he had won her affection, was a staggering blow to George. While he did not doubt the constancy of Marie or himself, two years of enforced absenoe, during whioh he would never see, perhaps seldom hear from her, was a prospect that might well dismay any ardent lover.
* Marie, I will noe make the thoughts of parting more painful-I will not ask more of you than I ought in reason to do-yet how long two years will be-never to see you, never to)} hear your voioe-is a dreadful proBpeot !'
4 They, will be as long to me, I'm afraid. But come, we oannot decently remain here another moment. We shall draw attention.*
They returned to the ball-room, and none too soon, for a round danoo had commenced, and Marian's partner was looking for her.
George had to apologise to the lady with whom he had engaged the danoo for keeping her waiting.
How many, true and untrue, are the ex- cuses whioh defaulting pactners make at every danoo in oity and country alike. But in the case of a distracted lover, as with George Whidden in this particular instance, his fair partner would surely have freely forgiven him-not alone for his being two or three minutes late for the danoo, but for his silence and abatraotion while the dance was in progress. George was certainly not as amiable or as attentive, or as solicitous about securing his partner from 'bumps' as he had the reputation of being. . . . And it was out of the question to tell anyone what was the matter with him ; or why he had to enquire, when starting, what was the
danoo, though he had but to look at every j
ooupie in the room to see that it was a High-
George grudged every minute, and every man, responsible for separating him from Marian. Yet he trod upon air, for had Marian not told him that she loved him as she loved her lifo. The battle was so far won. But a oruel fate, in the shape of a relentless father, was endeavoring to separate them.
George would have given much to have had the pleasure of taking Marian to supper, but that pleasure was reserved for another. However he so far manoeuvred, with his
manageable partner, as to seoure a seat at the table opposite to Marian. There for 20 min ates he could at least feast his eyes on the face that ever oooupied hiB thoughts. It was impossible, across the table, to ex- change any confidences.
After Supper George had but a moment's chance of speaking to Marian. He used it to beg that she would write him a note two or three times a week.
'Father has expressed a wish that I should not do so'-that waa all.* "
'A plague on all such fathers,' was George's inward reply.
At half-past one, sure enough, Mr Gonisby was seen escorting Marian from the ball- room during a pause in the dancing, and more than one deolared that the ' Queen' of the Carnival' was leaving the assembly. <