Chapter 65754808

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberPART IV. I
Chapter Url
Full Date1893-04-22
Page Number8
Word Count2057
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

©ales and £bic1te&


Br JOSEPH HATTON. Author of ' Clytie,n ' By Order of the Czar,' 'John Needham's Double,' 'Cruel Lon don,' &c

[aix stems mseeved.] PAET IV. Chapter I.— The Rake's Pbochess. 'Mrs. Longford-West at hornet' asked Mr. Barry Barkstead, dismounting from his horse at the Hall door of Filby House, a ram bling two storey mansioa surroaoded with gardens in which close-clipped lawns and ornamental yews were quaint and restfal features of the place. ' Vea, or,' said a smart footman wit* the servile courtesy of a town servant. ' Dobbs, pat np my hone tor an hour ; Rive him some oats,' said Harry ; addressing Mrs. Longford- West's head groom, who was pass iug in the direction of the stables. ' Yea, sir,' said Sobbs, taking charge of a chestnut that was just beginning to show the effects of a hard gallop, his neck wet, his mouth white with foam. 'A word with yen, Mr. B*rk*t«*d,' ,iid Mrs. Cooper, tbe housekeeper, who appeared on tbeacneu the lull door closed. 'This way if you pleaae.' Harry followed Mrs. Cooper, beating his leather breeches just a little impatiently, and she led him into her own room in the kitchen wing of the house. Here she tamed oa Hum a face paled with anger. ' What u it, Mra. Cooper S* said Harry. ' Stop your visits to the lodge, and put no more of your verses into the alder tree by tbe ten acre meadow, d'ye hear?' ' Does Jcsi-ie object to any visits and say versesf 'I object to them.' ' But.! jian't .goto tbe lodge-to see yon, nordo yon inspire my verses, Mr*. Cooper.' 'No, bat n yon go to the lodge again to see Jessie you'll see me,' said Mrs. Cooper, her lips white with passion, her hands trembl ing. 'Shall I? Then I won't go again, Mrs. Cooper.'' ' God knows if the mischief is not already done,' was the reply; 'if it is, look to it, Mr. Barkstead. It the girl Is bnt an orphan, she is not without friends.' ' I hope not,' said Harry. 41 And Norfolk's not without Uv either, for that natter, «nd -Justice Barkstead, though lie's your lather, win hardly see even his son bring rain upon the helpless and titae innocent, though if report does not wrong yon, there's many a girl that could accuse yon.' Having mastered her first emotion, Mrs. Cooper found her words come freely, and the more she said the more she felt she had to say. ~ 'Indeed,' said Barry; 'did Mrs. Long ford-West know that you were going to honour we with these pleasant remarks?' ' No, sir, bnt I dare say she knows yon writ enough vat to trust yon any farther than she can see yon. She can take care of her self.' 'Oh, you think so,*1 said Harry ; ' shall I tell her what you say? Is die position of housekeeper at Filby House so poor a place you can afisrd to throw it away ? Or bare yon feathered your nest so well that you are thinking of retiring with 'pnv happy man into a flnog little tavern, 'good accommodation for 'I can afford everything, Mr. Henry Barkstead, bnt to see any motherless niece go ia the bad without mn effort to save her.' A* he spoke she drew a necklace from her pocket and flung it at his feet 'And there's the bauble yon gave her. Take it and put it round the neck of some otner softie who is fool enough to listen to your honeyed lies and promises.' ?* Very well, since you wish it,' said Harry, fishing it from die floor with his riding whip. 'Ah, I don't doubt ye,' said Mn Cooper, opening tbe door in reply to lira. Longford - West's belL 'Good morning, Squire Bark stead, the mistress is waiting to receive yon.' ** Look here, Mrs. Cooper,' said Barry. ' I look over your rudeness, firstly, because you are in anger, and secondly, for tbe sake oE yoor pretty little niece. -*oocl evening.™ As he closed the door Mrs. Cooper lung herself into a chair and burst into tears. Mrs. Longford-West was a rich widow. She bad been twice married, and scandal said she ought really to have been thrice a widow, though she was only fitre-and- thirty and did not look her age within some years. Blonde, buxom, ample of bust and figure, just tall enough not to be dampy, she was the picture of health, and had a free and hearty manner that made men happy and at home in her society, and most of her lady visitors ill at ^n«m not to lay uncomloTtiLlile. Sbe brought from her boose and society in town the unrestrained manners of its loosest social circles, and enjoyed the confusion they ?created among stranger guests who called upon her for the first time. Nevertheless she ?managed to make herself popular tn the ?county. She gave freely to everything ?and to everybody : to the Church', the races^ subscribed liberally to the bant, patronised public institutions in a generous way ; and qo managed to keep on visiting terms, if not with 401 the best families, at least with such of tfiem as were most before the public. Sir Anthony Barkstead was her nearest Xetglibonr, and abe made a great point of coo ?ciliating his prejudices and opinions as far as ?she vu able ; for, troth to tell, ehe and bis gallant and highly educated son and heir were -an die very best of neighbourly terms, indeed

there were those who thought it even possible that Mrs. Longford-West, if anything hap pened Io old Sir Anthony, might live to be a Lady Barkstead. They, who allowed them selves to speculate mo far ahead in regard to the future of Mrs. Longford-West, did not know the disposition and character of Harry Barkstead. 'Well, so yon have returned, jny dear Harry,' said the lady of Filby House, giving him her plump, generous hand to kiss. ' You are more Quixotic than X think if the Western city bad not some other attraction for yod be yond seeing that poor young clerk of Petherick'e off to sea. Perhaps yon had an engagement in Batih, eli?' 'No, I assure you, my dear JUbby,' said Harry, taking tbe smiling, unresisting face of Madame between his hands and kissing the white forehead, 'pure friendship, on my 'Swear by something mure reliable, my dear Harry,' said the lady ; 'honour is for serious, sober men, when they have sown all their wild oats.' ' Do you say go *' Harry replied, sitting by her side on a rather uncomfortable Italian couch, ' yon ought to know.' 'You axe a brute, Harry,' said Mrs. Longford- West, 'a perfect brute. What do you mean 1n ' That you are die most charming of widows and tbe most generous of friends.' said her visitor, *' and I desire to ask the most delight ful of her sex to accept a souvenir of that City of tbe West which is distinguished because Et is the neighbour of tie B»th where first I had die honour of meeting Mrs. Aylesbury ' Yon are very cruel, Harry ; you know I hate the name of Norton. However I came to many into such s family heaven only knows; I never should if I had met dear Longford-Wetit before my young heart was ensnared by Aylesbury -Norton.' . ' And to think it is only five years since alT this happened, and I Was sowing my first Bick of wild oats as you would say, when I danced that first cotillion with yon.' ' Don't talk of time ; it was made for men who have not die wit and women who hare not die beauty to defy it.' ' You certainly have both die wit and die beauty, my dear Libby. Bnt here it it,— that little souvenir ; they are famous for Eastern gems and antiquities at Bristol they say ; I bought thia in College Green— it belonged to an Indian Princess.' He opened a richly embossed case and drew forth a qnaint brooch with a ^pa''mri set in pearls. 'There— do notsayyonarenot always in my thoughts, and believe me vfaen I add that 1 could not go to TFftf* for thinking of die happy days that can never return.' 'My dear Harry,' mid die lady tenderly, 'you. are always tbe same sweet, irritating, dear good fettow. It is a lovely brooch, thank yon so much— and yon may kiss me.' Harry put bib arms about die ample waist and took bis reward heartily, declaring that ?he did not know what under heaven would happen to fann if he should lose bis dear dear *' Ah, Harry, you haxe raid .the same thing to many another woman,' -waB dear Lobby's rejoinder. ' Kb, on my — well, on my soul,' he replied. ' I suppose yon must be forgiven ; young men will be young men ; but one day you will have to aettle down you know — and oh ; dear Harry, what shall I do then? Unless— but there, it is not Leap Year.' 'Only one year to wait,' said Harry, 'But don't let us talk about settling down; if lam nor called upon to settle up I shall not mind. Do you remember what the poet says in die tragedy ?— ' Widows know so much.' ' ' Youareawicked scamp,' said Mrs. Long ford-Wat ; ' widoirs are poor, libelled, inno cent creatures ; their only fault is diat they are too tender, too forbearing with the men ; self denial is their only fault. Tabs poor me for instance. To save my life I couldn't help confessing that I love you — why should 1, when you know it ?' 'My dear, good generous libby,' exclaimed Harry, taking auotiier kiss from the full, liberal lips of his hostess, and then rising to go. ' Why so soon V she asked. ' Business, dear,' he said; 'business of importance at Yarmouth ; a personal message to the chief magistrate from Sir Anthony.' ' Truly ?' she asked. ' Truly,' he replied. ' May I ring for Dobbs io bring my hone f ' Oh, yes, if it must be so,' she replied. Harry rung, the horse was ordered, and guest and hostess were about to part when Harry said, ' By -tie-way, the girl at the lodge— Jessie ; Mm Cooper seems to think that a little civility I paid the girl has tamed her head — the truth is — ' 'Only a little civility?' remarked tin. Longford-West, until a strong note of inter rogation. 'No, raydearLif-uy,uowtfiatisuukind; you know I am fond of gardening And rnatyonrman Dunn has no rival as a florist. I am sore Sir Anthony would give him any wages if be were free, which of course he never will be bo long as bis mistress loves flowers, and he glories in making Filby House the paradise it should be with such an Eire— I mean such a goddess.' 'Jfow I know there is something wrong, Harry ; you are paving compliments for the mere sike of talking ; what is it !' ' Well, between ourselves, that is exactly what I asked Mrs. Cooper, who desired a few words with me as I came io ; and all I could gather was that she wished me not to look in at the lodge any more. I hate mysteries, as you know, as I thought I would mention it ; one gets the reputation of being a gallant, however unworthy oneis of thetUie— a Love lace, as an old foal of a guardian once called me in the Park— and it is all over with a fellow. Ah, well one day, as yon say, I he cats will all have been sown; meanwhile, dearest Libby, am rtrwrr 'The reprobate, 'said Mrs. Longford-West,

' the scamp, tlie prodigal ! Oh, you goose, Libby txwgford-West-you idiot, you fooUsh Clarissa 1 Sou cannot help loving him ; they may, indeed, truly say that the first High of love is the last of wisdom !'