|Chapter Number||X (CONTINUED)|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||A Golden Dawn|
CHAPTER X.-Continued. But Lady:Fraser was so beautiful, and she hald so large. a fortune, that the world refused to listen to any scan dal about her. Had she been plain or dowerless, it would have refused to believe that she was one of the Lanches of Durham ; but with such a face and such a fortune she might have claimed to be whom she would. Quickly enough she passed the por trait of the City knight who had been her husband for one brief year. Then came others-dark, fair, young, old, all men whom she had slain as surely as though she had used poison or steel. She ceased to smile when she came to the portrait of Count Fieschi-a man with a handsome, passionate, cruel face -a man with pitiless eyes and sensual lips. She lingered some time over that. There came. to her a host of memor ies. Last year she had gone to Italy with some friends,_and they had stayed at Ravenna. She thought of a moon light night there, in the garden of the Palazza Micheli, when the handsome Count had seemed to fight with him self over his love for her. And at last -at last he had sacrificed his patriot ism and everything else to love ; while she had lured him on, and then refused him, because he could not keep her in the luxury she loved. She remembered another evening,' when the fiery love of the Italian had urged him into a tempest of anger-it was the night before her return for England-and he had said to her- r - "Take care ! If you go, rshiallfollow you. If I follow, I shall find you. If I find you, I will kill you before your beauty has power to mar the life of another man ! " Her laugh had floated away on the soft summer breeze-sweet and soft as the rose-leaves stirred by the wind; but there was no smile on his face, and no mercy in his eyes. " If ever he finds me, I am lost, " she said to herself. " But he:willnot; I am safe enough. And, if he finds me-this is the nineteenth century he will not harm me. " Still she was glad to pass over the cold, handsome, cruel face. " That was the only mistake I ever made ; I will forget it." She looked at many other faces, and then came a vacant space. " Here, " she said to herself with a smile, " I will put Alan Branston, Squire of Elmsthorpe Grange ; and then, with a sigh, she put down the album and turned her attention to the dressing of her hair. She had forgotten every graver con sideration, and was wondering what style would attract the Sqgire most. It was a beautiful morning that fol lowed, and at breakfast-time Lady Rose dene proposed that her guests' should visit an old ruin called Elmhurst-an ancient priory of which only walls and windows remained. The proposal was agreed to. " Will you walk or drive, Hyacinth ?" asked Alan. "whichever you prefer, I will be your companion. " Then Lady Fraser spoke, her 'dar~k eyes all bright, her smile so brilliant and sweet. She turned her graceful head to Alan.' " ' I will tell you what would really be a treat to me," she said. " I hear that you are a capital horseman. Will you ride with us-that is Miss Vane and myself ?" ".I do. not like riding," put in ;Hyacinth quietly. The beautiful widlow smiled. " The more you have of it the more you will like it," she said. And Hyacinth mentally hoped Alan would refuse ; she felt aggrieved that any one should offer to interrupt their tite-d.tetes-Lady Rosedene never did. B'itl?lan was flattered. The voike had not said much, but those bewitch ing eyes said plainly that she admired his riding and wished to ride with him. i "How do you know I can ride well?" he asked ; and she saw the pleasant im liression her words had made on him. "Some one told me-I do not remem ber who it was." was the c areless reply ; "but I should like to' see you put to the test." "I will ride with you with pleasure," he said. "Hyacinth, you have your habit here ; you will not be long in dressing, I know." Lady Fraser smiled sweetly. "Is Miss Vane an adept at dressing quickly ?" she asked. " Miss Vane is perfection," laughed the young Squire ; and Hyacinth went away to dress, but not with her usual alacrity. Why should Lldy Fraser disturb their plans and go with them? Hyacinth was not a good rider, and as an eques trian was more frightened than pleased. Lady Fraser, on the contrary, was never seen to such advantage as on horseback. The more Hyacinth thought of the plan proposed, the more she disliked it. She had pictured herself by her lover's side, walking through the green fields and lanes, stopping to gather the hawthorn and look at the clover. She wrote a little note, saying simply "Dearest Alan,-Do alter the ar rangement ; I do not like riding. We require no chaperon. Some one else will be pleased enough to ride with Lady Fraser." She never dreamed but that he would eagerly meet her wish. To her intense surprise, the answer that was returned said-- " My Darling,-How sorry I am .I But I have arranged so completely with Lady Fraser that I cannot disappoint her. She has asked me to show her the various places of interest in the neigh bourhood ; I cannot draw back now or I would. I will take care of you, my darling." Her face flushed as she read the note. The first faint flame of jealousy rose in her heart-the flame that afterwards became so fierce a fire. He had chosen to please Lady Fraser rather than her. She would not go at all ; they should have the ride to themselves. When the guests were starting, she sent an apology-she would rather remain at home ; and it was then too late to make fresh arrangements.
Lady Fraser noted the darkened look that came over Alan's face. He should suffer for it in the days to comel Her eyes were full of sweetness. her voice was fall of music, when she said--, " I am so sorry, Mr. Branston-it is my fault that Miss Vane is nothere." But. she exerted herself so well to please him that he could not help enjoy ing his ride. He came home smiling,. while the beautiful wiidow was radiant, And that was the first cloud in Hyacinth's sky."