|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||A Golden Dawn|
A GOLDEN DAWN. [FAMILY HERALD] CHAPTER XIII. Lady Fraser began to be interested. She liked the young Squire better than she had liked any one yet, and there was a certain piquant pleasure in watch ing the pained face of the young girl, For once the biter was bitten. She had begun by playing at love, and she ended by learning to love the man who was 'so solemnly promised to another woman. After she found that out, she delight ed in torturing her young rival ; to see the fair young face blanch, the white :lips tremble, and a sudden quiver of pain pass over it, was a pleasure to her. Yet she was so clever and so cunning that she contrived to accomplish all this without attracting attention; or drawinr down upon herself the displeasure of others. One afternoon, by- some strange chance, she found herself alone with Hyacinth. It was a golden opportunity, one not to be lost. Lady Fraser walked aimlessly up and down the room ; then, as though as idea had suddenly occur red to her, she said, half to herself, half to Hyacinth "I wonder where Mr. Branston is ? I wish he would sing with me for half an hour." 1 Looking up at her, Hyacnth saw a flash of fire and mischief in the dark lustrous eyes. She spoke without think ing. "Lady Fraser, she said, "do you know that I am going.to marry Mr. Branston ? We are to be married in July." She trembled as she spoke ; it seemed to her as though with these few words she must crush her rival ; but to her surprise, Lady Fraser laughed a low gentle laugh with a touch of scorn in it. "Indeed !" she said. "But July is not here yet ; and there is ' many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.'" " There will be no slip for me,"re joined Hyacinth hotly. "I hope not," laughed Lady Fraser; " but it is wise not to make too sure of anything in this world. Those who trust, for instance, in a man's love trust in shifting sands. I am going to sing; if Lady Rosedene wants me, tell her I am in the music-room with Mr. Brans ton." A few minutes afterwards, Hyacinth heard a stream of music filling the house. She did not wait to see whether her lover's voice was blending- with the magnificent contralto. She went to her room and buried her face in the pillows to shut out the sound. " She is stealing his heart from me !" sobbed the girl. From that hour the very madness of jealousy seemed to take possession of her ; her pain became intolerable ; she lost all the sweet childish grace and softness that had been her great charm. She was always angry, suspicious, or silent. The light had gone from her life ; and Alan, vexed and impatient at the change in her, was often displeased, simply because he did not understand. 1 Lady Fraser did her best to make matters worse. She said many things in the young girl's presence which she would not have dared to say to others. One evening Hyacinth was with Lady Rosedene; they were walking slowly amongst the budding roses, when they saw Lady Fraser crossing the lawn with Alan by her side. The very sight seemed to turn the girl's blood cold. "Look, Lady Rosedene I" she cried. "There is Alan-he is with Lady Fraser again. She will take him from me, I am sure; see how she smiles at him, how she looks at him." Lady Rosedene looked in alarm at the girl-her face had grown livid, her eyes were dim with despair. " My dear Hyacinth," she said, "do not look like that." With a convulsive grasp the girl clung to her arm. I "Lady Rosedene," she cried, "she will take my lover from me-I am sure she will. She is luring him away." " She ought tobe ashamed of her- 1 self," said Lady Rosedene, honestly I indignant. "I wish she had never come to Dene Hall." Th6 madness of passion seemed to I take possession of Hyacinth. A crim- I son colour flushed her cheek, an angry I light shone in her eyes, all her gentle ness and sweetness vanished. Under the influence of her terrible jealousy, she was like one transformed- Lady Rosedene never forgot that awful I change; it was the first time she had t ever been brought face to face with the I dreadful reality of human passion. " She will take him from me," said the girl in low dispairing tones ; " and he is all I have in the world. I wish she was dead ;" she cried. "Why should she seek to take him from me ?" " My dear Hyacinth, you must not t say such things," said Lady Rosedene. " You do not mean thlem." . "Ido mean them," cried the unhappy i girl. "If she takes my lover from me, I I will kill her I" Then the wild passionate words died a in a burst of tears. Lady Rosedene tried her best to soothe her, but to I "lyacinth it seemed as though her soul c had been seared. t Perhaps Alan was not altogether free from blame. He might, as he expressed it, have kept out of Lady Fraser's way ; t but her evident admiration flattered him. t More than once, when he found Hyacinth with a tragic face, and eyes i dim with tears, he muttered words that I were by no means complimentary to the charming widow; but also more than I once, when he found Hyacinth sad and silent, or ready to taunt him about Lady Fmraser, he showed his independence by a going straight back to Lady Fraser's side. So things went from bad to worse, r and there seemed little hope of any I improvement. Lady Rosedene resolved I to speak to the beautiful coquette, who was risking the happiness of two lives I merely to gratify her own vanity. She resolved to do or say something which I should shorten Lady Fraser's visit, " I have never felt jealous in all my life," said Lady Rosedene to herself ; "'but, if jealousy can change any one as e that beautiful, happy, loving child is chapning, it rmust be bard to bear, t
It was hard to bear. fHyacinth tried to trample it down, but it rose again with a thousand tongues of flame, and seemed to enfold her. It poisoned every breath of the sweet summer air; it poisoned the food she ate; it killed all sweet sleep ; it destroyed all rest. It was like a corroding poison eating her very heart away. There was no brightness, no beauty left in her life. She was always weighing evidence about Alan. She said to herself a hundred times over that if he really found that he liked Lady Fraser best she would give him up. and then tried to imagine what her life would be with out him, and found that it held nothing for her but despair and death. More than once Lady Fraser stung her into the madness of pain, and she had cried aloud that she wished her rival dead. With many additions the words were passed from one to another and the guests said such passion was dangerous. The night of the ball came, and great had been the preparations. A ball at Rosedene was one of the most pleasurable events in the county, and this was above all others eagerly looked for. Hyacinth, by her lover's desire, wore a dress of rich white silk, superbly trimmed with blue coroflowers ; a wreath of blue cornflowers lay on the golden hair, and she wore a knot of the flowers at her breast. An exquisite toilet it was, one just suited to her fair spring-like loveliness. She was so pleased with herlover's admiration that something of her glad young happiness came back to her. Alan was waiting for her in the hall, and kissed the sweet wistful face that was raised to his. " How beautiful you look, my dar ling !" he said. "Now we will have a night so happy that it shall he like a summer dream to us. Let me see your dear face bright and glad as it is now." They went into the ball-room to gether, Lady Rosedene watching anxiously. She had seen something in the widow's dark eyes that boded mischief. When Lady Fraser entered the ball-room-which she did an hour later than most of the others-all eyes were turned wonderingly towards her. The beauty of every other woman paled before the fire of hers. Art ele gance, and luxury, had exhausted themselves in her marvellous costume. She wore a dress of the palest green brocade, so pale as to be almost white; it was elaborately and beautifully trimmed with apple-blossoms ; dia monds shining like dew-drops were scattered over the blossoms. The lovely hues of the flowers were shown to perfection in the wreath on her glossy hair ; diamonds shone in it, and a diamond cross sparkled like fire on her breast. A low cry came from Hyacinth's lips when see saw Lady Fraser's dress. She remembered the scene about the apple-blosoms. It seemed to the loving wounded heart as though her beauty suddenly faded and the light of her life went out. Alan evidently understood all that Lady Fraser intended to convey. He laughed when he saw the flowers; he laughed when people teased him ; and those who remembered the little scene assured him that he was much honored. He laughed again when Lady Fraser raised her face to his. "You will dance with the apple blosoms, if you do not with me," she said; and the heart of the girl who loved him stood still with jealous rage, with hot bitter pain. Once during the evening the two rivals stood together. Lady Fraser said to Hyacinth "How well Mr. Branston dances! I am longing for a waltz with him." "He does not waltz," said Hyacinth coldly. " You will see," the widow laughed. "You have forgotten all I told you about lovers' vows. He will waltz with me, I am sure. Later on he did so; and Lady Rose dene, who was talking to Hyacinth, was startled by the spasm of pain that crossed the fair young face. When the girl saw that, although the waltz was over, Alan remained talking to Lady Fraser, her jealously became unbearable. "Good night, Lady Rosedene," she said. "I cannot bear it. I shall go home to-morrow, and then I shall suffer no longer. I-I shall kill her if she takes my lover from me I" The last glimpse that Lady Rosedene snd several visitors had of her that evening was when she left the ball.room with a blue-and. white shawl thrown round her shoulders. No one knew that she flung the shawl away as she passed through the hall to her room.