|Newspaper Title||The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||Crowned with Good|
'FOR MOMEXT8 THAT SEEMED TO 'HIM H0UI19, ' GEftTIlUDE's ? PALE LIPS UTTMJKD1 -,NO SOUXDy— $TlAP. IV.
CHAPTER IV. ?
October and November passed, and the New Zealand' summer was nearing its height. Lionel and Gertrude met ?more frequently than ever, for Mr.Lindsay could perceive nothing in the manner of either to cause him alarm, arid Mrs. Bushby, who had that liking for the society of young people which is so often seen among the more genial of their elders, encouraged Lionel's ?
visits, and secretly began to speculate as to whether any deeper; feeling than mere friendliness existed between the two. But of this there was not much opportunity of judging. . Gertrude was - / rapidly becoming a consummate actress; and played her part .of indifference only the better, as her love for Lionel grew day by day more strong. He lavished upon her the wealth; of his devotion when they could steal a few precious moments alone together; and in the presence of others his perfect selfposses sion made her forget, in a great degree, the strangeness of their relation to one another, and aided her in regulating her own conduct. ,, Mrs. Bates, with her accustomed . freedom; had ::-, more than once hinted to Gertrude that Mr. Lionel Lindsay .would make an eligible part!, thereby confusing1 her most: wofully. She wonld. come into her room every day, about the hour of dressing for dinner, ostensibly to obey her mistress's orders in assisting Miss Hnrriner with her toilet, but hi reality to indulge, unchecked^in a little harmless gossip, which was never, she considered, fully appreciated below stairs. ' Gertrude was often annoyed, but still .. more amused, at her eccentric abigail's remarks. . ' Now, Miss Gertrude,' she began one afternoon: while' busying herself in arranging her young lady's light; hair, you must put on your prettiest dress to-night. Mr. Lionel's coming, you know.' ' Mrs. Bates, how often must I tell you that I do .not allow you to talk in that absurd manner?' said Gertrude, indignantat the conscious flush in her cheeks. ? : 'Now, miss, you mustn't be offended ', 'x continued the irre pressible Mrs. Bates. 'I!m sure you and that young gentleman ?was just made for each other, and so I've often told the missis, and I can tell you she thinks so too.' \ :? * ; 'How do you know that?' said Gertrude; quickly.?- 4;;; i - ' Why she told me so, of course, miss. * I m pretty^ejl in her confidence, as I was in the poor old duchess's;' ariswere&Bates, swelling. 'She— the duchess I mean, rMiss Gertrud&r-she'd come to me and she'd say, 'Now, Bates; i do you think this or .that young gentleman would be a nice match for Lady Blanche or,, Lady Mary, just as free and easy as she'd give me her orders about them young rabbits cooking. Bid 'I tejl, you ?— -ah, she was powerful fond of young rabbits — little, wed things,' just like* little kittens they'd be— all fricassee'd and served up beautiful on a silver dish. Not as I could fancy 'em myself, though, if they was in a gold one. That and venison fry she. doted on; so you see, Miss Gertrude, my opinion's p'raps worth something.' Gertrude laughed merrily. ' Well, Mrs. Bates, I'm afraid that greedy. old duchess has made a terrible match-maker- of you! Now, I won't hear another word about; Mr. Lindsay; and I mean to wear my black net to-night.' Sirs. Bates, a little offended, relapsed into silence, giving Gertrude time for reflection. It was a great satisfaction to her to learn that her aunt would be likely to approve of the state of affairs between herself and Lionel, though the knowledge made her all the more anxious for a speedy termination to the oppressive secrecyshe was obliged to.preserve in the matter. She went down into the drawmgroom to await dinner, radiant in her young beauty. The long dress of rick black net she wore made her appear taller than she really was, and set off to^reat advantage her bright hair and white neck and arms. The sombre colour was only relieved thus, and by a cluster of mingled scarlet and white geraniums fastened at her bosom ; her only ornament besides was a slight gold bracelet. But she looked so lovely that Mrs. Bushby, seated near the window, exclaimed— ' Why, Ger trude, my dear, how nice you'do contrive to make yourself with so few ornaments ! But I wish you would wear more jewellery. You are quite old enough, and you have so many pretty things.' 'Beauty unadorned, &c, Auntie,' was the laughing reply. ' Who do you expect to dinner to-night?' ''Well, I am not quite sure. Lionel Lindsay, no doubt, for one, but I can't answ.r for his father's coming. He is so taken up with this horrid election. He wants to get Gaythofne in, and they have been canvassing, or whatever they call it, all day, I understand. For my part I don't care a fig who gets in. Mr. Linds.oy has so many firolci/ds here that he might as well take up his ab'ode in Dunesk for the rest of his life ! I daresay he would, but for his profession at home. Though I don't see how he can be so interested in the election when he hasn't even a vote. They have a yacht somewhere down the bay, Gertrude. That boy will never be satisfied until you have been for a sail with him.' Gertrude smiled. 'It would be very pleasant, Auntie. But would you care to go on the water for amusement ?' ' Not I, indeed !' cried Mrs. Bushby, who had always enter tained a wholesome dislike to that element, viewed as a substi tute for terra firma. ' Here come Captain Merton and the Conways ; go and meet the girls, my dear.' Gertrude had already passed through the room to the hall-door, while Mrs. Bushby appeared at the open French window to welrome the two gentle men, who advanced towards her by a short cut over the grass. Mr. Conway, the elderof the two, and fatherof the three «irls who had accompanied them, was a widower, who entertained a stronff partiality for the good things of this life. He was accordingly a frequent guest at Mrs. JJushby's table, as well as an untiring seeker of Mrs. Bushby's society. His companion was a languid young captain in thenrmy, related to the Lindsays, and supposed to be on sick-leave, and to have visited New Zealand lor the benefit of his health, lie had no more glaring vice in him than ii supreme contempt for everything 'colonial,' though his profound admiration for the female sex was not limited, and,
provided a young lady rejoiced in good looks, he worshipped at the shrine, even though his idol denied her pretty lips with slang. The three Misses Conway adored him as undifcguised.ly as was ?consonant with. maidenly, modesty, , and /.in* L'priytttejdiseffsSftd'mnry \ad?- libitum : while' the masculine; portion, of 'His-; .adhtirers-*— :iliifledged colonial youths — looked upon hinidlmdifc! as a demigod, ?'andimitatedhim'i^ ,. ij/ v' ; ., Captain Merton' had beeiitKebaneiof- Gertrude's existence: ever; since shd;first*hiade-his acquaintance* . He seemed' to take; it for granted- that she niust beVinspired with awe? at his vast knowledge of the: world and. extraordinary conversational ? powers ; her' : unmistakable indifference to his charms lie; was.the -only person ancapable of perceiving. The ladies' entered the drawingroom,. ?1 and dinner was announced; -but Lionel ?' did'1 not , appear. The evening passed— slowly for Gertrude, who was monopolised by Captain Mertoii,- and'-niade to play one;piece after. another,- while he leaned over \\ th&;'pidnq whispering soft nothings in her ear, to her great annoyaiifce^The three Misses Conway were indignantly revolving. iritheir':tiiirid4!(under cover of their unlimited gratitude atthe conclusibnidfji^ddn^nioj'cemfaj) the question whether they should arouse' 'pa ' from his after-dinner nap to escort them home, when Gertruda rose hastily from the piano, declaring that everybody must be quite tired of her.' music, arid proposed a moonlight \ stroll in the earden ; then, crossing to where the \ injured trio were seated, she led-tlie way, into the cool night air. As. she stepped'' from the window the* sound of firm, quick footsteps upon the' gravel drive caught herear, and made her heart beat'-witli : a glddii surprise. The ;Mi'$5es Conway were far too . much absorbed ; in their hero to 1 heedrthe new arrival, and had' already, carried hini;;triumphantly off, much' against his will, so Gertrude wasifree to liasten forward and clasp Lionel's hand. .* ? ?? 'How is it you have only just come?' she whispered. ; .' Gertrude,1 I have news that will perhaps grieve you — I can't tell you just now. I only came up with these books, intending to leave them at the door, arid I, must be .gone, again directly. Will you take theiri? Thanks/ darling. Don't keep' me now.' His tone was wild and hurried, and Gertrude, scanning his face in the;moonlight, saw something of the same expression there that had so startled her once before. . / v: ' I cannpt.plet you go until you have told me «a little, at any rate^ibf what ison your miricl,' she snid quietly, laying her cool hahaViri his. ' Don't wastetime— a few words will do, perhaps.' Not a word, not a sign, of' the anxious terror that struck chill to her heart were manifest*-' in tone or. mariner, but Lionel felt '.thatrhe must obey her desire; ?; He paused a moment, then said ..??slowly — ' Gertrude, my father has received a telegram from one ?of his partners— I need not enter into business particulars you would not understand— saying that. his iinmediate presence at home is absolutely necessary arid.that it will be advisable that I should accompany him. My father is fully determined to go, of course, and he will take passage in the next ship. And what excuse can I make for remdinirigbehind ? It is as imperative as ever that our engagement should; be kept a secret, and, my Ger trude, I; cannot bear to leave you ! I did not mean to say so much to-night; but now, Gertrude, tell me — swear tome that you will do as I wish. ' I ani driven to ask this of you, Gertrude. Will you consent to come -with me— to be married ? I can make you happy, darling, I know. Do you care for your present life more than you care for nie ?'. He asked the question \as- if his life depended upon .the answer. ; His eyes seemed to devour her. He flung his'arms about --her slight frame in an abandonment of emotion, and- clasped her wildly to him, as if neither earth nor heaven should separate them ; then waited. ,For)moments that seemed to him hours, Gertrude's pdle lips uttered no sound. At lost she raised her eyes to his face, with ' a1 wan attempt at a smile. 'Lipnej,' she answered, arid her voice, though low, was clear '.ancl piercing in -' the distinctness with which 'she uttered every' word— ' Lionel, it is of no use for me to struggle against my Jove for you— I am' bound to you by chains that seem stronger than iron. I have asked God to help me, but 'He has given ine no answer. I cannot iind Him. There is 110 alternative!' : Lionel sadly shook his bead. 'Then, you know, I am yours ' entirely. You may do with me as you like. ' Her head drooped, and he thought the suddenness of the shock and the effort tb decide had- made her faint, biit presently she raised^ her head. ' Now, I must go in. Won't you come, too, arid see Auntie ?' ' No, no, ray brave Gertrude; but you have made me very happy. Goodnight. I shall see you to-morrow.' He waved his hand, an 1 was gone. ' ' . As in a .dream, Gertrude entered the drawingfpom and gave the books vto her, aunt, saying unconcernedly, 'Mr. Lionel* Lindsay left: these for you, Auntie. He had not time to come :in,i:he said.' - *- ?? ; -?-*?.? .1. No one noticed anything strange in her manner, but the guests remarked, as they took leave, that she looked tired. They, were afraid she had played and sung too much.- ?-? Ger trude laughingly 'denied it, and nobody could have guessed the aching heart she carried to the quiet of her own chamber, nor the agonising sobs that shook her as she knelt beside her bed, murmuring ' I have promised him, I have prornised,' and I cannot draw back 1'