Chapter 59751040

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1883-06-02
Page Number3
Word Count1646
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)
Trove TitleClare
article text

CLARE. [FAMILY HERALD.] CHAPTER II. It looked a very little time to reveal to the master of Southrock the mercen ary disposition of the wife. She did not make the faintest attempt to display any redeeming qualities ; still she had never acted hypocrisy. The veil of love over her husband's eyes and the diplomacy of Mrs.Courtrae had sufficed, without strategy on her part. To understand that he was barely tolerated as an adjunct to her bargain was a cruel shock for the young hus band; but his was love so loyal, so in tense, that it could not be shaken by such a discovery. He set himself the task to woo his wife anew ; he believed' in the power of love, and, even as the, cheering warmth of the sunshine de-i velops the color and perfume of the' folded bud, he trusted by gentleness and devotion to elicit the sweet in. fluences latent, according to his per suasion, in the heart of his wife. The alterations at Southrock did not entirely please her capricious fancy, and, whilst her rooms were rearranged to suit her will, they went to Ventnor,, where her friends, the Ducies of Cum-r bermere, were spending a few weeks. " I shall not visit at Roby," said Clare,as she entered the drawing-room. on the first evening in a faultless din ner dress of golden-brown velvet. "I! am planning a trip to Paris ; and, as we shall stay here such a short time, it: is scarcely. necessary to inform Mrs.i Strahan of our vicinity to Roby." Ivor was waiting for her with- a blush rose of exquisite hue. "For me ?' said she, sinking lad gutidly upon a couch. ' No, thanks ; I am provided with flowers. But ,Ii 'daresay Evelyn Ducie will like it." "" But I'did not procure it for Miss] Ducie," returned her husband quietly. " Since you will not accept it, Clare, I think I will keep it till I see Nellie to !morrow; she' is so fond of flowers." "I said just now, we need not visit at Roby."' . "You spoke about yourself dear; I have already let them know at Roby; about our coming, and I am bound to' go and see my mother." " It is very annoying," said Clare, her beautiful face taking az added shade of hauteur. " I quite forgot about Roby when I suggested coming to Ventnor; the Ducies are very par ticular about the people they meet, and I could not possibly -introduce) your nmother to them." "As my mother will always be an honored guest in my home," declared Ivor, "I feari we shall seldom be able to receive the Docies." . . . i Clare looked up at him with a fiush of surprise, and her lips parted as'if to -eak ; but just then they heard the sound of 'arriage wheels, and knew it betokened the arrival of the widowed Lady Ducie, her sod 'Sir Harold, and her daughters Evelyn and Louise Clare had invited them to diincr on this first evening in Ventnor. They were very demonstrative to wards the young wife, "-whlo might be so useful to you, my dears, in her present position," as Lady Ducie said to her marriageable daughters during the drive ; and Clare was more cordial than Ivor had ever seen her. The Ducies were also most amiable to. wards himself; but Ivor was not one to be patronized-which fact they were quick to discover. Evelyn and Louise confided to Clare, after dinner, that they were quite en raptured with her choice ; really he was a perfect parti, what with his good looks, his evident cleverness, his de votion to herself. "And his property," added Clare calmly. "Of course, my dear," said Lady Ducie from the arm-chair, "that is the chief consideration. Your selection is most creditable to your good sense. I trust my daughters will exercise similar discernment in a matter so important;" and she looked somewhat severely at Louise, who was suspected of secretly favoring the present handsome young curate of Cumbermere,

Just then Sir Harold came in -with his host, and a good deal of operatic music succeeded. Ivor Strahan, who did not care for operatic airs, especially as Clare languidly excused herself from singing, was feeling rather weary of the entertainment and losing himself in the plot of his new poem "Melissa," when the drawing room opened sud denly, and Mrs. Strahan, senior, made an abrupt entrance, followed more leisurely by Miss Ross. " Ivor, my dear boy, we've just run over to have a look- Oh, I beg pardon-I did not know as there was company ! Your humble servant, ma'am"-and Mrs. Strahan cnrtseyed in what she considered most fashionable style t) the astonished Lady Ducie. The expression of her ladlyship's face was a curious but freezing study; polit ness to her host struggled with consi deration for the Ducie dignity, and the result was a blank stare at the per former of the curtsey. Sir. Harold and Evelyn Ducie could with difficulty repress their smiles ; Louise was watching with interest the indescribable haughteur of the daughter-in-law and the unruffled composure of the sou, Nellie, too, attracted her attention Nellie, who, understanding Clare's disposition, had tried to prevent this unexpected visit, and now felt most: deeply uncomfortable for Ivor's sake. He it was who managed the intro duction of Lady Ducie and her family to Elizabeth Strahan, the farmer's daughter, born on their estate ; then he contrived that the music should be resumed, whilst he conversed with his mother on a distant sofa, and Nellie sat listening to a duet between Sir Harold and Evelyn Ducie, touching with gentle admiring fingers the roses that Ivor had given her. Clare's proud dark eyes watched the pretty graceful figure almost unconsciously to herself. Pre sently Nellie, meeting her look, smiled, and told her they had had a visit at Roby, from her youngest brother since the wedding. " What, Algy ;" asked Clare, rather startled. Algernon was her favorite brother-careless, self-indulgent, proud, but brave and generous always. He was very handsome and lively, and as perfect a rider as Hussars need be. "Yes," said Nellie, "and auntie" for so she always called Mrs. Strahan -" has invited him to spend Christmas with us ; he says the air does him so much good." "I did not know he was indisposed," remarked Clare, inwardly wondering what should induce the society-loving officer to busy himself at Roby, unless indeed - Why should a sudden pang of shame shoot through the young wife's heart i She had never reproached herself for her loveless marriage, yet it was grief to her to imagine her brother a fortune-hunter. And she knew he was capable of love. Must he sacrifice a life's happiness for the sake of paying his troublesome debts from Nellie's dowry ? " My poor Algy," she thought pity ingly-" surely. one mesalliance in the family is sufficent. I mast afford him some help." -' Yet she knew how her father and mother had drained the son-in-law ever since the marriage, and rather shrank from a further demand from her husband. The Ducies were the first to leave : for Mrs. Strahan so much enjoyed the fact of sitting with such society that all Nellie's attempt to withdraw were wasted upon her ; however, when the Ducie carriage had rolled away, and Clare, at the further end of the room, took fip the Queen to study the fashions, she suddenly noticed the time, and kissed the son she so deeply loved, telling him his pale looks made her quite anxious. '" Oh, mother, I am all right !" said he,:wrapping her shawl around her. " Ah, I know your ways-don't we, Nellie ?-poring over your poems from morning till night, and never saving no appetite for your food! You want Nellie to look after you, that you do. Don't you mind how she's hid your papers before-now, so as you should rest a bit? Yes, Nellie, child, I fancy the horses are tired of waiting, Good bye, my bpy; come over to-morrow, mind. Good-bye, Mrs. Strahan-you seem mighty interested in your reading. We've had your brother down of late a nice free-spoken young fellow. Ah, I always said the Captain was the flower of the family !" And, with this parting shot for the benefit of the young lady who had not at all taken her fancy, Mrs. Strahan, senion, withdrew. "Ivor,"said Clare, lookingup from the Queen at her husband, who was stand ing with one arm resting on the mantel piece, "if this intercourse with Roby is to continue, I should wish to leave Ventnor at once. And I think I will ask Algy to join us in Paris-we could s3end Christmas there. I shall tell Lisette not to unpack my things." "I do not think I can go to Paris this year, dear," returned her husband, "I find there is business at i Roby which my mother wishes me to transact'; so I shall try to transact it during our month's stay here. And it is my duty to be among my Southrock tenants at Christmas time, you know." "Just as you please," said Clare indifferently. "Algy, then, must be my escort to Paris." "No, my dear Clare," opposed Ivor; " in the present disturbed state of Paris you would not at all enjoy your visit and I could not let you stay there till the city is more settled." "Perhaps," said Clare haughtily, " I consider Captain Courtrae sufficient protection, and should not trouble you by asking your consent." Ivor made no reply, save by a look, jgrave, but very loving. Presently she recommenced, exceedingly provoked by. his silence, and speaking in the tones of ja wayward child. (To be continued.)