|Chapter Title||BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE FORMER.|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||Society, Friendship and Love|
' BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE FORMER.
" Content with Hermia? No, I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent. Not Hermia, bub Helena I love :
Who will not change a. raven for a dove ?
The-will of man is t>y his reason sway'd, .
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
" So you have actually condescended to come at last," said Dolly, with a fascinating little pout. ' ' Do you know that I have been waiting for nearly two hours ? "
"I was afraid of disturbing your conversation witb Walter Grimleigh," he answered, coolly, and ignoring the space made for him on the sofa by her side.
' ' Am I to understand that you are jealous ? "
" Not at all, only I do not like to feel in the way." Dolly looked at him from under her eyelashes, but his face was inscrutable. " Did you have a pleasant walk with Margaret last night ?" she asked, sweetly.
" I had no walk with Miss Latimer, pleasant or
"How was that?" said Dolly, with a shade of more
warmth in her tone. .
" She preferred going home with John."
" It was very ungrateful of her, after your heroic cham- pionship."
" Does it not strike you that we might as well leave Miss Latimer's name out of our conversation ? " he said, critically examining a rose which lay on the table by him.
"Oh! I do not want to talk about her, but I thought you found it an interesting subject. You may have that rose if you like ; I believe I picked it for you."
It was Maurice's turn now to look curiously at her. He picked up the rose and hesitated a moment. " 1 will put it in for you, if you like," she said, with a pretty little shade
He was softenedin spite of himself, and came close to her. She looked up in his face with an appealing glance. " Do you love Margaret better than me ?" she said, softly.
Maurice instantly drew back. "Pray let us leave Miss Latimer's name alone," he said, with a slight frown.
She turned away pettishly and began to beat the devil's tattoo on the carpet with her pretty little foot. "Do you mean to say you think she behaved nicely last night ? " she persisted.
" I think she behaved admirably, as she always does," answered Maurice. "What has so changed your feelings towards her ? You seemed fond enough of her once ?"
" I am fond of her now," said Dolly, " but I do not think
she has behaved well. "
" But what has she done ?"
"Oh ! I do not expect you to see it. Men are always blind about these things."
" About what things ? "
" Little underhand things."
Maurice broke into a laugh, and not a very pleasant one. " Miss Latimer do underhand things ! Dolly, your eyes must be very sharp. Pray what has she done that is underhand ? "
" I do not see that I am compelled to go into details,
said Dorothea, with a sudden assumption of dignity. "It is quite enough that my mother disapproves of her con- duct, and that she has caused a dispute between my parents."
"Then your father does not disapprove of her conduct. I am glad to hear that she is not under a universal ban," said the inconsistent Maurice, who, after objecting to the introduction of Miss Latimer's name, seemed now deter- mined to hear all he could about her. "But how has she offended your mother? Surely Mrs. Broadhurst does not feel herself bound to take up the tutor's quarrel ?"
" She feels bound to secure the Grimieighs from imper- tinence when they come here, and Margaret was most insolent to Mrs. Grimleigh last night.''
" Was she ? I thought it had been the other way. "
"It would be very unpleasant for the Grimieighs to be always in danger of meeting here," Dorothea went on, ignoring the interruption. " But I hope she will see it herself and save us a great deal of unpleasantness."
" Then I suppose your father refuses to pronounce'this sentence of banishment. And you, Dolly-are Mrs. and Miss Grimleigh and this precious tutor, all acquaintances of less than a year's standing, more to you than your cousin, who, you once told me, was your dearest and best friend? Dorothea, what has changed you so ? "
" I am not conscious of any change ; it must he in your- self, and for affection depending on knowing people a long time that is all nonsense ; and, by the way, how long have I known you ?"
"Exactly nine months," said Maurice. "May I ask whereabouts in the scale of your affections I come now ? "
"You talk of my changiug," cried Dorothea, flushing into sudden, anger. " I wonder who has changed most, you or I. You criticise everything I do ; you find fault, you like the society of others better than mine, and you sulk because I take refuge from all this with-"
"Yes, Dolly, go on, with-"
"With my friends, who are satisfied with me and to whom I can talk pleasantly."
At this moment a step was heard on the verandah ; Dolly glanced at the clock and flushed crimson. " Here comes one of your friends to whom you can talk pleasantly. I hope he is not earlier than you expected," said Maurice.
" I expected no one, and you have no right fco say such things to me," said Dorothea, recoveriug her composure as the steps retreated again. "I wish you would go away till you are in a better temper."
"I should not have dreamt of intruding upou you had you not sent for me. Pray be satisfied, I shall not repeat the offence, I have no desire to be a restraint and marplot. Good morning j" and Maurice turned towards the door.
For a half a minute Dorothea hesitated. She did not want to lose all hold of him, and such a parting was tanta- mount to a rupture of their engagement. She made one step towards him. " Maurice, you are cruel," she murmured, but the steps on the verandah, which had for a moment turned aside, came nearer again and Walter Grimleigh's long legs and tall hat suddenly appeared outside the window. Dorothea drew back, the tell-tale blushes again dyeing her face, and Maurice, including the pair in one ceremonious bow, retreated from the field, and.left his rival in peaceful possession.
There was more cynical contempt than despair in his face as he passed out of the Oaklands gate and stood hesitating where he should go next. He decided that he would go and see Mrs. Guise. He had of late neglected the bid woman ; he said to himself, the walk would do him good and calm his mind which, notwithstanding his philosophical composure, was a good deal disturbed by the scene with Dorothea. The road, too, was quiet and picturesque, and he had nothing else to do. In short, he offered fifty good reasons to himself for doing a very simple thing, but he did not stop to ask himself what secret hope sent the blood rushing through his veins and quickened his pulse, as with a some- what shaky and uncertain hand, he unlatched the little gate that led into the garden.
With his first glance round the room, his face fell and a chill of disappointment crept over him. Mrs Guise saw these signs and made her own inward comments. " Sit down Mr. Maurice," she said. "I'm proud to see you ; sit down. Miss Margaret sent me word this morning by Mr. Powell that she'll be down to see me to-day. You
didn't chance to meet her on the road ?"
"No," said Maurice, startled to find himself colouring under the old woman's keen dark eyes. " No, I did not see Miss Margaret, perhaps she has not started yet. What on'earth is the matter with me? I feel like a fool," was
his inward comment.
"Do you know, sir, how soon she is going to leave Castlereagh ?"
" Leave Castlereagh !" he exclaimed. .' She is not going
to leave it."
" Asking your pardon, sir, but she is. > I had it from Mr. Powell himself, this morning. Ah, well ! poor young lady, good and handsome as she is she don't leave mauy behind to cry for her, but I for one shall miss her badly."
" I do not understand," said Maurice. " Since when has she made up her mind to leave ? She said nothing about it yesterday."
" She couldn't very well sir, for her uncle says she only made up her mind this morning."
"lt must have been that cursed scene last night," he murmured to himself, and he got up and began to pace about the room. The old woman went on with her knitting and watched him out of the corner of her eye. " Look here, Mrs. Guise," he said, suddenly stopping in front of her, " are you quite sure this is true ?"
" Well, sir, Mr. Powell told me that Miss Margaret had quite made up her mind to go, and that he thought it was right, and that she would be happier in the country than with him for a time. He's sorry to lose her too ; he's fouhcl out what she is at last, now that it's too late."
" Did he not always care for her ?" asked Maurice, for the sake of saying something, but barely couscious of Iiis own
. " Not he ; he was as blind as a bat, for all bis book-learn- ing, and couldn't see the difference between truth and lies, and goodness and vanity ; between one who thought only of herself, and one who always thought of others first. Many thanks she got for it. I have heard enough from Jane Skinner, who was lady's maid at Oaklands, but must needs go and marry a drunken rascal of a carpenter, who spends his earnings in the drink, and beats her and xthe children when he comes reeling home. Fools, women are 1 But Jane was a decent body, aud spoke up times enough for Miss Margaret. She'll miss her too, and you, sir, you won't get mapy more talks with her. If I might make bold to ask, when do you think of getting married? "
(To be continued.)