Chapter 70983090

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70983090
Full Date1885-08-29
Page Number32
Corrections0
Word Count1565
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleFound Out
article text

CHAPTER VI.

The lintio is a bonnie bird,

And often flees frae off its nest ; * ' Sae all tho world may plainly see

They're far a wa* that I love bost,

"Where is Mr. B-?" said the master of Mallinger Towers, as be glanced round the break- fast J table next morning, finding enough beauty , there to excuse the absence of one who had never

I contributed ßo much to the good looks as to the

wit of the company. ,

Every ono looked at Mr. Velasquez, whose office was i supposed to be a sinecure ; but he continued his conversation with Katharine, as if he and she were íeía-a-ícíe on a desert island;

, " I beg pardon, sir," said the butler, advancing, "but Mr. B. went out early this morning, and found a deal of young women in the neighborhood who i want' their souls* saved-and he's praying with them now, and has sent word that if he's very deeply engaged, he may not bo home to-night." . -

À smile ran round the table, and Lady Becky said, with an innocent air : . -

"Did you not know that he was exploring the beauties of the neighborhood? : He has wearied of ours already!", . .,?

. "And how about the business of his country?"

said Lord Dolly..

' " Oh. ! it can wait '.".said Lady Becky, "his de- spatch-boxes are in his dressing-room-his Sove- reign, can wait, his country go to perdition, but I meanwhile he-and his secretary," she added.

; softly, " enjoy themselves !" ? ?

"The object for which, man was born," said Maliinger Dashwood, "and tho better to carry it out, I have devised a new amusement for this evening. The mere is frozen, and we will hold a bal masque there instead of in the house."

. " Delightful !" . cried the women who could skate, and to whom mask and domino meant an intrigue. . ; . .

? "But we are too small a party to practise de-, ceptions among ourselves," said Lady Becky 5. " arid pray, where are the masks and dominoes ?" > '

' " Oh ! I have bidden the guests," said the host, carelessly,' " and you will all find your war-paint in your dressing-rooms, when you go upstairs presently.' ' All the ladies' dominoes are white, the men's black; but at supper every one must wear

a mask."

"And where are we to sup P" asked Mrs. Vi- vien, with a shiver ; "on. the mere ? why, we óhall be frozen long before supper-time !"' ,

"The slimmer bath-room opens on to tho mere," said Mr. Dashwood ; "it |has been boarded over, and; makes au excellent ball-room, and behind it is erected the supper tent."

.... " We are having too mach dancing !" said Mrs. Vivien, who hated to be taken by surprise j " why we have hardly yet got over tho fatigue of the other night !"

" But you' will like, this, " said "Mr. Dashwood. " Let me take you ' down to the mere presently, then you will understand the arrangements better ; if there is anything you object to-^-pray

alter it." v. ,!, :

"May IT" said Mrs. Vivien, coloring a little, and turning to the young lady, who, indeed headed her father's table, but showed so few hostess-like airs that there was nothing to distinguish her from any guest present.

". Of course," said Katharine, in that indifferent voice which so curiously contrasted with her youth, and which, somehow, matched the com- posure of Mr. Velasquez, suggesting the idea that both .were living introspective. lives just then, save but for one sole peep-hole on the world-out of which they looked upon one another.

" I don't think I sholl venture on the ice," said Mrs. Beaumanoir, a delicate beauty, who rarely courted those rude exercises to which more vigor? oxis beauties were addicted ; '. after ali, I havë à1

good many letters to write, and think I shall spend the evening in my boudoir."

" What does it matter if we are cold-and do

get red noses?" said Lady Alice, gaily, yet not without malicious intent ; " for my part I intend to work all the havoc I can on the neighboring squires, and whisper all sorts of scandalous stories

of them into their wives' ears."

" Only, first we must get up some information about their characters," said Lady Becky, briskly, "and I give notice that I shall impound Mr. Langworthy for that purpose. You shall take me to the mere now," she added to that gentleman, " and put me up to everything, and at supper time you shall see some find studies of rage depicted in bucolic countenances !"

" I did not know Langworthy was custodian of the secrets of tho county," said Mr. Dashwood with a look at Shis neighbor, beneath which the latter colored, but said, " Since you -have none, Dashwood, you need not fear me ;" and then the breakfast party broke up, half the women to try on their dominoes, and see if their masks fitted, the other to wrap up for that pilgrimage to the mere which curiosity dictated.

After all it was an easy descent, and a surprise to those who made it, snugly covered in from tho winds, and softly cushioned so as to make it a pleasant alley for those who chose to linger on the way, heedless of the exclamations of surprise uttered by those who went before, and announced fresh wonders at each step.

Mallinger Towers stood on the summit of a gently rising hill, and at its back, and below it, was the summer bath-room, a long and beautiful building, composed almost entirely of white mar- ble, whose 18 windows looked out on the mere, so that a bather might leap from the bath to tho water beyond, and, indeed, many fine ladies and gentlemen frolicked here in time of summer, dressed with as much care as for a reception.

But to-day no nymphs disported themselves, no floor of marble shone, but only waxed and I polished boards ; and each closed alcove that had ! served as beauty's dressing-bower, now showed a

little interior, half visible through curtains of scarlet silk,. while against the marble walls a trellis work of ivy had been attached, that in turn supported brackets, whence, depended clusters of exotics that sent a breath of sweetness through the warm air, and seemed to mingle with the splash of a fountain that from a bed of ferns tossed itself high as the archway that closed it in. . ? ?;- ' - ?-' -

"I like the mere the best," said Katharine to Velasquez, as they turned their backs on the guests and . workmen, and side by side stood looking out on the sheet of frozen water before

them.

"One can breathe here/' he said5 "and you will Bkate; here to-night."

"Yes."

Her voice was lifeless-how could he tell that at heart she was passionately crying out, "Jack, Jack-my Jack"-how know that in the paper of that morning she had seen something which per- haps meant good-bye for ever to the one, the only

sweetheart of her life.

Her gaze wandered out over the ice and snow with a deepening of the curious look which made Katharine Dashwood's eyes to strangers at once so lovely and so haunting that they never forgot them-the look that had slowly been growing into them ,yoar by year ; just as into the eyes of those who dwell for long months on water, and seldom come into port, is gradually washed a look of the sea, but in its-quietude, not its storms. And with Kitty it was the thought of Jack, always Jack, that abode with her, and shaped her life, so that perchance, though she should, know him dead; his living presence would remain with her to her dying day.

"Do you skate, Mr. Velasquez?" said Mrs. Vivien, approaching the young pair; "and do you ?". she added, turning to Kitty.

They both answered, " Yes." ,

' "And every one will know you by your height/' said ' Mrs. Vivien, carelessly, " but I shall be able ; to glide in and out like a wasp-so look but for stings!" she added, addressing Mr. Ve- lasquez;. .

' " Or for violent colds," said Mrs. Beaumanoir's discontented _vbice:behind them, "though pray who; could put on a fur cloak under a domino without looking ridiculous ? And if all those windows are to be open, how are we to venture in there in ball dresses and. a domino only ?"

" No windows will be open," said Mrs. Vivien, " or sb the carpenters say. Those who wish to skate will pass -out of the room by a door at the

end which is hidden behind a screen."

/" The corner of which "I shall take excellent care hot to turn !" said Mrs.'Beaumanoir, as with a reassured air she turned to reascend the incline to the house.

v " And I," thought Mrs. Vivien, " will turn that corner to somé advantage to-night, and if ail goes well, by this time to-morrow Mallinger Dashwood will be in my power."