Chapter 57171184

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Chapter NumberII.
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1887-11-18
Page Number6
Word Count1563
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAlexandra and Yea Standard, Gobur, Thornton and Acheron Express (Vic. : 1877 - 1908)
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CirAyrrr II. I 'It's a darned shame !' The speaker, George W. Grant, First Lieutenant on board the Plymouth, looked as if he ueant it. Mr. Maynard l:nsoll, sitting on the mesa. table, his isardas thrust deep in his pockets, his legs dangling impatiently to and fre, looked as if he quite ugreed. * Stock is an infernal-' ' I ouehtn't to have spoken,' interrupted Ensolt, rather wearily, but roused to a sense of disclpline by the wrathful, fiery eyes of his friend, 'only-' ' You couldn't help it-I should think not I It smakes a man sick to see his bullying, lie's a drunken-' ' Shut up !' Grant's reckless, fiery spirit made EIieoll more careful for his friend than he was for himself. Grant paced restlessly up the room and back again. If he could, at that moment, have taken his Captain by the throat and shaken the breath half out of him, he would have been grateful. Only, unfortunately, the plan was not feasible, and he had enough control over himself as yet to understand the good seu.e of his friend's advice. ' Well, old boy, I must be off.' he said, as he reached Eneoll again. 'Can I give any messages? I hear you've been running it hard,' with an amused laugh. I']-eoll winced. It was a fortnight since their own dance, and he had certainly been ' running it hard.' He raised his eyes, which were dismally contemlaring hid feet stretched out now on to the back of the seat before him, and looked at his friend instead. Grant was splendidly handsome, with that generous brightness of anger still lingering in his eyes, its flush on his face. Ent.-rll remembered suddenly how long she had looked at his portrait that day; how in. terested she had since been in everything concerning him that he-Ensoll-bad told her. And with a curious eunsation, curious because lie had never felt it before, he remem hered, too, how much he had told her. But tone sensation pa~eed as quickly as it came, almost before le had time to be troubled by it. It passed in a sudden anxiety for the man who had excited it. ' Woat are you going to do this after. noon ?' I don't know. Perhaps I'll look in at the Princess's dance. Stock was slauning me this morning because I haven't been seen " in decent company yet, "' with a grim laugh. And then Gardiner has asked me to dine with him to-night. I shball take my things ashore and dress there.' 'I wish you'd cut Gardiner,' said Ensoll, impatiently, but with an anxious look in his eyes. ' I believe he's a regular card. sharper.' The other flushed half-angrily, half.ehbame facadly. 'You mind your own hbsiness,' he said, grullly, and yet not unkindly. ' Do you think me a fool ? I gave you my word I wouldn't play high ; that ought to be enough for you.' Eneoll tumbled cf his uncomfortable perch without another word. Grant was a born gambler at heart. This evil propensity was one of the causes given by Captain Stock for his anger against him when he, a poor Lieutenant, had had the presumption to fall in love with his lovely little riece, Mirabella Stock. He wes an inveterate foe to gambling himself, and opposed it with all his might amoug his men and officers. Enroll had done his best to keep his friend out of the pale of his displeasure. He had even la'ely persuaded him to give him his word not to play high. As he could not have broken his own, he was satisfied with his friend's now. Ieis own woes soon made him forget even his anxiety for Grant's hot temper and the well-known hate existing between him arid his Captain. For a whole fortnight not to have a chance of seeing Miss Keith I He had incurred, the day before, the wrath of Captain Stock, and in coneequencs had to suffer for it by having his leave stopped for a whole fort night. It did not make the sentence any lighter to know that the punishment, from a disciplinary point of view, was perfectly just, atnd that, if it had been passed on any other man, it would have been harder. This suspension of all intercourse between him-elf and Miss Keith was intolerable. Since that first afternoon they had met nearly every day. Though never once again had he caught a glimpse of that strange look, yet, in some subtle way it seemed to have become the foundation of a friendship, which, outwardly only an amusing flirtation was something very much more real. He had no doubt about his own feelings on the sub ject, and there was some kindness and tenderness underlying her bright society manner, which he felt without being able to analyse, and which filled him with the most glorious delight of hope. No I she could not he plating with him. They called her a desperate ilirt-a dan gerous, heartless coqoette--it had even been at first hinted once or twice in his hearing, that she was fast, ' bad form,' in her reckless indifference to appearances. But he found her all that was good, and womanly, and sweet. How he wished now he had sent her a message by Grant I What foolish, false reticence it had been, which kept him back from even mentioning her name to his old friend. He wondeted, as the long, hot hours of the afternoon wore on, what Grant would think of her. They would be sure to meet at the Princess's that afternoon. Grant had only returned from leave three days before; he had been staying in town with Gardiner, who bad chambers in London. Though Grant had been ashore, he had spent most of his time with Gardiner, who had come down to Southees. with him. Neither of the two had appeared at any of the asocial entertainmenats going on in the p'ace. Grant, who had once been the most pieasure.loving young fellow in the world, seemed, since his last love.affair, to have taken a disgust to society. It was late that night when Grant returned. The two men did not have any opportunity of speaking to each other till the next morn {-g. The first glance at Grant told Eneoll that something was wrong. His thoughts immediately flew to Gardiner. ' flow did you like the " hop "V' he asked, as he leant over the bulwarks looking down at the water, which r.ilected thedazzling blue of the morning sky. He did not see, therefore, the faint start his friend gave, nor how the pale, tired face flushed. ' Oh I the iop I' after a second's pause, rousing himself apparently from some other trauin ol thought ' It was well enough. Beeps of pretty little girls. Very hot and crowded, though.' ' What did you think of Miss Keith?' plungntug hodly to the point, seeing no other way of trting the conversation to her. SSbe'e jood.looking,' with a languid slow ness which sounded utter indifference. ' Good.looking I' indignantly, standing upright. 'She'a out and out the loveliest girl bert r A strange, startled, mnd yet curioneusly understanding look came into Grant's eyes as no looked into his friend's eager lace. 'I say, Ensol, they told me, you know-' he broke off abruptly, and turned away. ' She's abthe girl )0o've been going in for, isn't she Ensoll's face flashed hotly, and then his lips seemed to pale a little for there was something behind his frie,,d' speech. ' What were you going to ea) :' he asked, ' Oh I Idont know ; only I think it -

rather i n setake,' U rau said, in at uruius, composed way. 'They all say so.' SUrarlt I' Ensoll laid his hand on hie shoulder, compelling him to turn, so that he should see his face. H1e spoke quite quietly, but it was not natural. ' Why is it a mis. 'o 1!--well, she is a desperate flirt, and and-1 heard ' You don't know what you are saying. If you are going to repeat any of that miser. able slander to noe, you'd better clear out. It's all the basedt jealousy. She's the sweetest, truest, purest girl I have ever met and I'd lay down my life to prove her faith I' HIe voice, which had gradually risen into indignant reproach, ended in a note of the mio's perfect, triumphant confidence and gladness. tui iurned on his heel and walked across the deck, hardly conscious yet of how much hi. words and manner betrayed. Grantetood looking afrer kim quite stupidly. Easoll had bretn perfectll slant when he had told hltu that he did not know what he was saying. He had said something. But what it was ha cou d not tell now. Only it must have been somethinlg, inl answer to that proud, eager look on his friend's face. He had heard yesterday all about the desperate flirtation between Ensoll and Miss Keith, Yet he had forgotten it till this moment. He had eone through such a furnace of mental anguish, such a storm of remorse, and helpless rage, and de.perate fear, that all else had been scorched up in their fires. But it all came back to him now.