|Chapter Number||PART IV. IV|
|Chapter Title||THE COUNTRY BEAUTY IN TOWN.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
[SOW FIRST rüBLISHED.]
BV JOSEPH HATTON.
Author of " Clytie," " By Order of the Czar,"
"John Needham's Double," "Crnol Lou- don," &c.
[ALT. KtnnTS RESERVED.]
l'A KT IV.
CHAPTER IV.- Tur.COUNTRY HEAPTV IX
Klmim Webb lind not nver-cstiinntcil lier personal attractions. Unsophisticated as she was in regard to London life, with no practice in coquetry, except upon such gullants as came in lier way down in Norfolk, she had nevertheless pictured herself thc lender in some such set of London helles and beaux ns Harry Barkstead hail described to lier. She expressed no surprise ut thc London streets, the gay equipages, thc liveried servants, the wonderful shops, the aristocratic bearing of the West Hud crowds. Any one might have thought she had boen accustomed to such sights and such society all ber life. She shopped and discussed millinery with thc most fashionable modistes and with perfect nany froid.
On her first night al the opera she created a sensation umong thc set in which young Barkstead was a prfona urala. Harry was both proud and jealous of thc admiration she excited. Elmira was apparently innocent of thc fact that she divided with the prima donna thc attention of a large proportion of ' thc boxes. '
Thc town was quite taken with thc new beauty, so fresh, and young, and striking. Elmira surveyed the house with well acted indifference, but her heart beat fast . and furiously with a sense of triumph. Thc old house at Caistor, uud Zacuhcus, her father, were for the time being forgotten. She never once remembered David Keith. Hurry Bark- stead little thought what a handful of trouble he had undertaken in bringing thc country beauty to London
She received every visitor with gracious case and interested geniality that captivated both men and women. Her one object in life seemed to be to give pleasure to all who came withiu tile range of her personal magnetism. Every man thought he had made a deep im- pression upon lier ; every woman confessed that thc country girl was at anv rate modest and unaffected. Lord Grcmiox was smitten
to the very thing he called his heart. He was twice Barkstead s agc, and had len times his wealth. He was a married man, but his wife was very complaisant, and " received " in a very miscellaneous way.
Lord Grennox visited Elmira's box twice
during thc evening, und insisted upon Bark- stead bringing Madainoiselle to Beulah House, which Harry did on thc very next day, not that he was anxious to do so, but Elmira would not let him rest until he had responded to his lordship's invitation Lord Greunox was i notorious for his amours. He was nevertheless, a leader in thc fashionable world, even a favourite at Court. Lady Grennox was one of the most charitable women of her time, foremost in every benevolent work. Grennox himself was popular at White's and Boodle's, and he had been known to give a voluntary advantage to a bad loser when play ran high at Crockford's. On the whole, ho was whal men called a good fellow, and women, a very dangerous mau, my dear ; he knew os little about virtue and cared less than most men lof bis class in tho fashionable world of his
time, not that the age in which we live is over scrupulous in condoning social breaches of the 'moral laws that are supposed to govern Society. As there was half a ccutury ago, and before then, and as there will bo no doubt in thc centuries to come, there is a
good deal of bowing to virtue and passing it
There were no half measures about the pecadiiloes of Lord Grennox.
Before Elmira had been in tnwu a month I she had taken leave of Harry Barkstead and sailed away to those continental cities ho had told her of, under the protection of Lord Grennox. . Why should she consider Harry Barkstead ? He had not married her, nor did he intcud ever so to do. She had not bound her life to his in any way. He had no claim upon her. He had not honoured her with his society for her pleasure but for his own. Lord Grennox had consented to settle upon her such an income for life as would make her
independent of both his lordship and Harry
Elmirahudacccptcd his lordship's proposals, and had obtained proper legal assistance to ensure thc deed of endowment being properly executed and with bom fide trustees. She was a woman of business, and ina very short time had met other women of business in the town who had given her good advice, and men of business too, oue of them having relations with Norfolk, and all of them possessed of the full knowledge of thc immense wealth of Lord Grennox. She was a born adventuress, ellis Elmira of the East coast, a Pompadour, a Delormo, a Castlemaine; and she held her own when thc young Queen Victoria was among the most delighted of the audiences at Covent Garden and Druey Lane.
Though duelling was beginning to decline even among army men as a mode of satisfying wounded honour, it was sufficiently the mode to justify Harry Barkstead in sending a friend full Bpeed after Lord Grennox with the demand of an immediate meeting. Society and certain journals that reflected the worst phases of its life and character found the dis- appointment of Barkstead a matter for much gossip and amusement ; and of course it was taken for granted that the young Norfolk gentleman would not sit down tamely under thc i II j u.-y which he had suffered at thc hands of the gayest and cleverest Lothario of hit time. Nor did Hurry intend to do so ; but meanwhile Fate had other business in store for thc false friend who-had matriculated for a reputation quite an scandalous as that ol
Harry received a message from his fathet to go down immediately to Ornicsby Hull on pain of disinheritance and other punishments. So while his ambassador of wur sped on hil way to france and Italy, Harry Barkstead took thc coach to Yarmouth, u prey to thc varied puBsiotiB of pride, hate, unrequited love (kc »still called his passion for Elmira love and fcu-B nf bankruptcy, He had of late no only far exceeded in his expenses thc libera allowance of his father, but he had Contracid financial responsibilities that he could uoi meet without a special grant, und his bills hui begun to accumulate in hands the least reput able among money-lenders. What he mos feurcd, however, was Sir Anthony's auge over thc affair of Elmira Webb. His futile was rich enough to meet thc financial claim that pressed upon him, ami hud rescued hin from the accommodating Jews before ; hut li had a personal regard for the smacksman n Caistor, und might bitterly resent thc scduc tlon of old Webb's daughter. Harry's fore casi of (he agenda paper of his sins which hi father-dnstice Barkstead, ns thc commoi people called him-hud prepared against hin
was beside the mark.