Chapter 61305721

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61305721
Full Date1899-12-19
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count1466
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleFrom Convict to Countess
article text

Au. RIGHTS RBSKRVED.

FRO! CONVICT

TO COUNTESS.

A NOVEL BY DB. GREY.

. CHAPTER VIII. »

. Continued from Saturday's issue.

The girl clasped her hands in thank- fulness, and her feverish cheek glowed a deeper red.

"You are kind to help me to freedom. I was afraid you -would go and leave me here alone. Now I shall feel, happier for your goodness."

Two days passed as usual. On the 'evening of the third a new arrival glided across tho grass. Eric looked, as the Bhndow, cast by the setting san, fell along the courtyard. The shadow belonged to a woman.

Tho sun somowhat dazzled his eyes, but, ho could see she had long black Lair and dark eyes. Her tall, lithe figuro was straight and graceful, and there was something feline in the swift, easy -walk.)

Tho brigands greeted her like an old acquaintance, and she nodded familarly to different members of the' hand. Presently Bhe came strolling up -with tho chief. He stopped op- posite tho prisoners and spoke.

" You will bo glad to hear that a .' messenger has gone to Borne, and

should bo nearly there by this time. My sister has brought word."

"lam glad to hear it," said Eric" "Is this tho English . Signor?" asked tho brigand's sister. : '

"Si, Aurelia."

" And how like you our mountains, ; Signor ?" . ;

" The mountains, like the maidens of tho land, aro very beautiful," Eric replied, discretely. Aurelia laughed.

" Tho mountains, you would . like at a distance, perhaps. But I am not sure, of that with regard to the otlier," . with a glauco at Eric's lady friend.

"Somo of tho men tell,me you. have mado a conquest. Is it true, Signor ?"

" I do not think so," said Eric, reddening.-with anger. "It is'only natural that companions in misfortune should cling together."

" Just so, Signor ; that, and nothing more. But don't get angry with me. OE course, you Englishmen are so busiuess-liko. But for my part, if I were, in lovo with, you, I -would be jealous." And, with another laugh, shoipasscd on.,

;.. " Thank goodness you aro not,"

said Erio .'to himself, " There is a panther-liko spring in her stop, and lightnings in her bold and unabashed eyes.- ? I supposo this life and associa- tions would take the bloom off any

maiden's mind."

The next evening-tho brigand in- vited his ' guests to como nearer to his men, .adding that when Aurelia «arno down thoy generally- had -some. einging;' . Accordingly, they moved . up. . Tho moon was not quite-full; but ? tho fire threw its glancing light and

shadows upon tho groups - gathered ' there in tho solitude of tho mountains,

and'' . Bhono . upon - tho " picturesque ; . , costumes and weapons of the brigands.

. - Ono or two were musicians of con

[ sidorable ability, and'-when; some; of, . the voices harmonized together,'and. ? -they, sang of- liberty and freedom, b,i

. love, Eric asked the Sigora.Del Eioré '

; if a bandit's lifo did not seem charm-'

ing? ? " ? "?> ,-:

-.- Nb," she said, their-lives aro ' reckless. Talcs of bloodshed and ?? shame aro - told' of theso men,-which. ; makes the blood run cold in ono's

Tcins. 'And thoy .-will, spare neither. ,' man or woman if their interest of . pleasure lends them that way. Even

the bandit's sister has been known to .- look on crimo without a tremor or a

tear. The Holy Virgin send lis safe - ;V:X' out of thoirhands."

*ííi*- ' The duet was finished, and a voice

- . mado somo request, which-was taken

up by othors. - Eric did not catch it. i Ä. ! There was somo demur, but tho voices

- swelled into a clamour. - .. ? - > "Aurolia! - Aurelia!"

"No, no," cried Aurelia. "Iw.U ? not. I do not choose." -

"'Tis on account o£ the English- man," said tho brigands.

" What is it ?" asked Eric.

" Aurelia will not dance for us

to-night," said ono . of the. mou, ex plaining. " Go and ask her, yourself, Signor.

Erio entered into the spirit of the hour. . ?

" I beg, Signora, that you will not deprive us of tho pleasure. Be gracious to me, a stranger-soon, perhaps, to loavo. I entreat you to - gratify tho wish which destiny has

given mo."

"Why," said Aurolia, "do you want to seo à rustic maiden dance, when ono who travels can soe, and no - doubt has seen, tho most famous

dancers of tho world ?" .

. ' " Not so, Signora.. I hdvo seen.no . ono with tho grace and agility of your

figuro." .

" Do you wish it ?" she asked, bond-, ing her flashing black eyes on-his.

" Surely, I wish it. There is nothing - that would givo me so much pleasure/'

" Then, ns an Englishman never flatters, I will danoo for you."'

? il Bravo !"' cried tho band, who had . silently followed tho dialogue. " Moro ? torches; Phillipo !"

Torches were brought, and stack in the ground, around the huge flat rock, . around whioh tho men sat or reclined.

. ' : Aurelia tied hor shoo-strings afresh,

and thon carno tripping forward. - spreading out her short skirts, and

bowing to her audience The violins gave ont a moaning, throbbing sound, and sho began.

? She glided hore and there, hor small feet'twinkling in thoir rapid move - ment. Sho seemed to quiver all over,

as" she flew slowly on, as a butterfly . from 'flower to flower. ?. Tho music ,

sighed slower, softer, and she poised, ' as sho oirolod by-every movement

full of grace and beauty; every posture instinctive with' artistic feel- ing. Beaching the centre, she fell into such a charming poso, with radiant oyes, and parted lips, that the men leapt to their feot and shouted their plaudits, till tho echooB rang back from the groat peale abovo.

Slowly, recovering, as from a dream

of love and rapture, she snapped her fingers to the players. The music quickened j weird chords of mystery sounds, í expectant, melody uncom- pleted - waiting - and ' the dancer hovered from point to point. There was. no need of a lecturer. It was a dancing poem that explained itself. It was a young girl. Innocent and contented and incurious, she sported round all things beautiful and bright.

Some, influence arrested her and

awakened curiosity. . Her feet hesi- tated" uncertainly she approached it. Timidity was in her attitude. Then, a start, and springo-a flash of recog- nition. Coyly she leapt away-but always her provoking eyes gleamed through her shrouding hair, over her rounded shoulder, and from between, her circling and swaying arms. ; And' then, with .veiled eyes and laughing lips, she.,yielded, to permit a capture. Anon, sho became the pursuer, and in turn, laughing,, challenging-a fugitive-rtlie living scene of invita- tion, repulse, coquetry, allurement,,

consent.

Again she gathered applause. ; " Bravo ! Bravo, Aurelia !"

She signalled again with her fingers, and tho music lilted up faster and faster, and the spirit of the dance entered into her. Her feet flashed

like quivering light. Sho became a living 'whirlwind, indistinct, inde- scribable-a mystery; a creature of flying braids, of sweeping hair, of ' flashing eyes, of ' glistening teeth

seen, but lost. A vision of white arms, flying foet, whirling drapery. And then, bounding with the spring of a leaping deer, above the heads of the spectators, she sank nearly to the ground, recovered herself, dropped a courtesy to her audience, and tripped, flushed and panting, to the side of the Englishman.

The men's voices were hoarse calling " Aurelia ! Vive, Aurelia !"

Phiflipo replenished tho cups with wine, and Erio, taking his flagon, pledged tho beautiful Aurelia, and, drawing his ring from his finger (it contained a good diamond), placed it upon tho dancer's finger, in remem- brance of the occasion. .

" Never, Signora Aurelia,'have I seen such, grace and poetry of motion as I have seen to-night. Without a word of flattery, you aro unapproachable, and I have travelled and seen, the world." . ' ?

-Aurolia thanked him for his praise with a smile and a look as she-stood, , panting-but such a look ! She had

tho artist's .temperament, and praise

was like tho breath of life.

'? Well," said Eric to himself, as tho 'gathering, broke up,' "perhaps a little, praise and a little present is not thrown away. Mon have, however, given- -rbettor diamonds for worse dancing.than I haye seen to-night."