Chapter 64034622

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64034622
Full Date1883-06-09
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count1856
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitlePhantom Fortune
article text

'Through the silent house, across the placid lake, there rang a wild shrill cry that froze the blood in his veins * * * a shriek of agony, and in a woman's

voice * * * . It rang out from an open window next his own."

-PHANTOM FORTUNE,

By MISS BRADDON,

Author of "LadyAudley's Secret» "Dead Men'a S/toex," ." Weavers and Weft," "'Just as I Am,'\ ¿¡c., «fcc.

CHAPTER IV.

(Conti mied from May isaac)

" Yes, they will. Hereditary genius is one of the modern crazes. When a man's grandfather was a rogue there must be a taint in his blood. People don't believe in spon- taneous generation, moral or physical, now-a-days. A man

is taken to be the outcome of his ancestors."

" Tn that case, knowing what kind of man the grandson is, I will never believe that the grandfather was a rogue," said Mr. Hammond, heartily.

Maulevrier. put put his baud without a word, and it was warmly grasped by his friend.

" As for her ladyship, I respect and honour her as a woman who has led a life of self-sacrifice, and has worn her pride as an armour," continued Mr. Hammond.

"Yes, I believe the dowager's character is rather fine," said Maulevrier ; but she and I have never hit our horses very well together. She would have liked such a fellow as you for a grandson, Jack-a man who took high honours at Oxford, and could hold his own against all comers. Such a grandson would have gratified her pride, and would have repaid her for the trouble she has. taken in nursing the Maulevrier estate ; for however her husband may have dipped thc estate hy his Indian extravagances there is no doubt that it is a very fine property now, and that the dowager has been the making of it."

The two young men strolled up to Easedale tarn before they went back to Fellside, where Lady Maulevrier received them with a stately graciousness, and where Lady Lesbia unbent considerably at luncheon and condescended to an animated conversation with her brother's friend. It was such a new thing to have a stranger at the family hoard, a man whose information was well abreast with the march of progress, who could talk eloquently upon every subject which society cares to talk about. lu this new and animated atmosphere Leshia seemed like an enchanted princess sud- denly awakened from a spell-bound slumber. Molly looked

at her sister with absolute astonishment. Never had she

seen her so bright, so beautiful, no longer a picture or a statue, but a woman warm with the glow of life.

"No wonder Mr. Hammond admirer her," thought poor Molly, who was quite acute enough to see. the stranger's keen appreciation of her sister's charms, and positive indif- ference towards herself. . '

, . There are some things which women find out by instinct,

just as the needle turns towards the magnet. Shut a girl up in a bower till she is eighteen years old, and on the day

of her release introduce lier to the first ,man her eyes have ever, looked upon, and she will know at a glance whether

he admires her.

After luncheon the four young people started for Rydal Mount, with Fräulein as chaperon and watch-dog. They were all good walkers, Lady Leshia even, though she looked like a hot-house flower, had been trained to active habits, could walk and ride, and play tennis, and climb a hill as became a-mountain-bred damsel. Molly, feeling that her conversational powers were not appreciated by her hostess's friend, took half a dozen dogs for company, and with three fox terriers, a little Yorkshire dog, a colley and an otter hound, was at no loss for society on the road ; more espe- cially as Maulevrier gave her most of his company, 'and entertained her with an account of his Swiss adventures, and all the fine things he had said to the fair-haired, blue eyed Helvetians, who had sold him photographs or wild strawberries, or had awakened the echoes of the hills with

the music of their rustic flutes.

Fraulein was perfectly aware that her mission upon this particular afternoon was not to let Lady Lesbia out of her sight for an instant, to hear every word the young lady said, and every word Mr. Hammond addressed to her. She had received no specific instructions from Lady Maulevrier. They were not necessary, for the Fräulein knew her lady- ship's intentions with regard to her elder niece, knew them at least so far as that Lesbia was intended to make a bril- liant marriage ; and she knew, therefore, that the presence of this handsome and altogether attractive young man was to the last degree obnoxious to the Countess. She was obliged to be civil to him for her nephew's sake, and ,she j was too wise to let Lesbia imagine him daugerous ; hut the I fact that he was dangerous was obvious, and it was Frau-

lein's duty to protect her employer's interests.

Everybody knew Lord Maulevrier, so he had no difficulty in getting admission to Wordsworth's garden and Words- worth's house, and then they went back to the shores of the little lake and climbed that rocky eminence upon which the poet used to sit above the placid waters of silvery Rydal. It is a lovely spot, and that narrow lake, so poor a thing if magnitude were the gauge of beauty, had a soft and pensive, loveliness in the clear afternoon light.

"Poor Wordsworth,'' sighed Lesbia, as she stood on the grassy crag, looking down at the shining water, broken 'in the foreground by fringes of rushes, and the rich luxuriance of water plants. " Is it not pitiable to think of the years

he spent, in this monotonous place, without any society worth speaking of, with only the shabbiest collection of books, with hardly any interest in life except the sky, and the hills and the peasantry ?" '

" I think Wordsworth's was an essentially happy life, in / spite of his narrow range," answered. Hammond. "You, with your ardent youth and vivid desire for a life of action, cannot imagine the calm blisses of reverie ? and constant communion with nature. Wordsworth had a thousand com- panions you and I would never dream of. For him every flower that grows was an individual existence-almost a

soul."

" lt was a mild kind of lunacy, an everlasting opium dream without the opium; but I am grateful to him for living such a life, since it has bequeathed us some exquisite poetry," said Lesbia, who had been too carefully, cultured

to fleer or flout at Wordsworth.

"I do believe there's an otter just under that bank," cried Molly, who had been watching the obvious excitement of her bandy-legged houud, and she moved down to the brink of the water, leaping lightly from stone to stone, and inciting the hound to business.

"Let him alone, can't you ?" roared Maulevrier ; "leave him in peace till he's wanted. If you disturb him now he'll desert his holt, and we may have a blank day. The hounds are to be out to-morrôw--," ,

; " And I may go with you ?" pleaded Mary.

" Well, yes, I suppose you'll want to be in it."

Molly and her brother went on an exploring ramble, along the edge of the water towards Ambleside, leaving John Hammond in Leshia's company, but closely guarded by Miss Kirsch. They went to look at Nab Cottage, where poor Hartley Coleridge ended his brief and clouded days, and they had gone some way upon their homeward walk before they were rejoined by Maulevrier and Mary, the damsel's : kilted skirt considerably the worse for mud and mire. ?. !

"What would grandmamma say if she were to see you?" exclaimed Lesbia, looking contemptuously at the muddy

petticoat.

"I am not going to let her see me, so she will say-'?,:; nothing," cried Mary, and then she called to the dogs,*-'; " Amnion, Agamemnon, Angelina," and the three fox terriers flew along the road, falling over themselves in the swiftness of their flight, darting and leaping and scrambling over each other, and offering the spectators the most intense example of joyous animal life.

The !'Illustrated Sydney News" is t!ie only publication in Xeio South Wales in ichich this tale can appear.

The colley was far up on the hill side, and the other hound was stil hunting the water, but the terriers never went out of Mary's sight. They looked to her to take the initiative in all their sports.

They were back at Fellside in time for a very late tea. . Lady Maulevrier was waiting for them in the drawing

room.

" Oh, grandmamma, why did you not take your tea ?" exclaimed Lesbia, looking really distressed. "It is six

o'clock."

"I am used to have you at home to hand me my teacup," replied the Dowager, with a touch of reproachfulness.

" 1 am so sorry," said Lesbia, sitting down before the tea . table and beginning her accustomed duty. " Indeed, dear

grandmamma, I had no idea it was so late ; but it was such a lovely afternoon, and Mr. Hammond is so interested in everything connected with Wordsworth-"

She was looking her loveliest at this moment, all that was softest in her nature called forth by her desire to please her grandmother, whom she really loved. She hung over Lady Maulevrier's chair, attending to her small wants and seeming scarcely to remember the existence of any one else. In this phase of her character she seemed to Mr. Hammond the perfection of womanly grace.

Mary had rushed off to her room to change her muddy gown, and came in presently dressed for dinner, looking the picture of innocence.

John Hammond received his teacup from Leshia's hand,

and lingered in the drawing-room talking to the Dowager , and her granddaughters till it was time to dress. Lady Maulevrier fonnd herself favourably impressed by him in spite of her prejudices. It was very provoking of Mau- levrier to have brought such a man to Fellside. His very merits were objectionable, fche tried with exquisite art to draw him into some revealment as to his family antecedents, but he evaded every attempt of that kind. It was too evident that he was a self-made man, whose intellect and good looks were his only fortune. It was criminal in Mau- levrier to have brought such a person to Fellside. Her lady- ship began to think seriously of sending the two girls to St. Bees or Tynemouth for change of air, in charge of Fraulein. But any sudden proceeding of that kind would inevitably awaken Leshia's suspicion; and there is nothing so fatal to a woman's peace as this idea of danger. No, the peril must be faced. She could only hope that Maulevrier would soon tire of Fellside. A week's Westmoreland weather grey skies.and long days of perpetual rain, might send the

young men away.