Chapter 70984328

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Chapter NumberXVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70984328
Full Date1885-09-26
Page Number32
Corrections0
Word Count3083
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleFound Out
article text

CHAPTER XVII.

" Leave äff your pride. Llargaret," ho says, ?> " Use ib not ony mair,

Or, when ye como where I hao Leon,

. . . You will repent it sair." -.

The frost had broken up with a will, and a hunt breakfast was going forward at Mallinger

Towers. . .

"Tho scene was oho of indescribable bustle, move- ment, and colour j the rapid arrival s, the hear ty greetings, mingling with the hum of talk among those already seated, the quickly moving servants, and the now dully now brilliant] scarlet of ' tho men's coats/lighting up the Lincoln green or tho sober blue of the women s habits 5 tho blackened oak serving as foil to tho massive silver that flanked.the sideboard, or shone in brighter ßhape ! among flowers upon the long table so richly spread with all that hungry men. could .desire,, aud over all a brilliant; January sun streaming in through tho broad window, of - which tho upper ¡janes were of red, and gold, and purple. ' '

..Dashwood was in his place as host ; apparently careless, but overlooking nothing and'nobody, he

fulfilled Iiis duties -with a grace and cordialitj I tliat made him appear more than ever distinct from the ordinary men who surrounded him, the only one present who touched, but did not surpass, him, being Mr. Velasquez.

More than ono puzzled glance was turned on that young man as he assisted Katharine at hex tea equipage, and more than one country neighbor said to another, " What an extraordinary resem- blance, by Jove!" but, on hearing his name, con- cluded himself mistaken, and returned to the pleasures of the table. Each moment brought fresh arrivals, fresh greetings j the room at last was so crowded that it was a relief when tho movement for a start was made, and all got to horse, and rode away.

The "meet" was held at about a mile's distance from the Towers, and as Katharine trotted be- tween Mr. Velasquez and a neighboring squire, she began to understand why Englishmen love fox-hunting, and how the typical fox-hunter, the object of cultured persons' disdain, is thoroughly happy, and with good reason. If his face is round, and his body is rounder, he has eyes and soul enough to rejoice in the dewy morning, the fresh smell of the earth, and the aromatic scent of the plants he treads underfoot,; he sniffs up the air, now keen, now soft, as if it were Nature's physic, and he f eeis no care as he jogs along the lanes, perhaps to a hunt breakfast (though such a treat is rare), but always with tho certainty that ho will find pleasant company when ho reaches his destination, while the hopes of good sport animate his honest breast; Ho meets his neighbors, there is some tedious waiting, perhaps, beguiled by a pull from a flask, then at that most melodious cry of "Gone, away !" ho settles down in his saddle, lets his horse go, aúd eujoys himself more in the next 20 minutes (if the run is good) than did ever any pale studontin most ardent pursuit of a discovery. Perhaps there is no " find" at all, only a tiresome series of " baulks,"and ho goes home at the close of the short winter's day without having seen even the tip of Reynard's tail; but no matter! He has lived the day, he has breathed thc air, and ho is happy as he wends- his way homeward to a good sound dinner, followed by a sounder sleep, in which he dreams of better sport on tho

morrow.

"So you haven't forgotten how to.ride. Miss Kitty ?" said Squire Dalgety, regarding her with

I entire approbation.

" Didn't you teach mo P" slio said, turning so fresh* a face upon her old friend as should have blinded him to the trouble in her eyes ; but his own were keen, and he saw it, and, perhaps, was not sorry. . .

"Didn't I teach ,you both?" said the Squire, lowering hi s voice, although (for the lane was narrow) Velasquez had dropped behind.

" Who was the other ?" said Kitty.

"Who else?" cried Squire Dalgety, growing warm; "who got you packed off to school when you were over 17 years old, because he wanted to marry you, and you HIM ; who bas been waiting for you, like Patience ou a monument, these two years, and would wait a dozen more; who else, pray, but Jack Stormonth ?"

"Oh, Jack !" said Kitty, slightingly. '

" And pray, Miss Kitty," said the Squire, facing round, " what has he done to offend you ?"

. " Oh, nothing !" said Kitty, in a tone that im I plies " everything."

I "Perhaps you've changed your mind," said I : Squire Dalgety, dryly, " and that handsome, fellow

riding behind us has something to do with it. Ho is confoundedly like tho Fitzhughs, though if he is ono, it's precious bad taste his showing up in this neighborhood," - ,

"Hush!" said Kitty, for during the past few days, in which Mrs. Vivien had contrived to'distil some more drop3 of,'venom into her mind, the girl had gone back to her first friendship for, and trust in Velasquez, aud tinctured too by a warmer sentiment, the sentiment of pity. :.

' "Then if Jack's to be thrown overboard," Baid Squire Dalgety, nodding angrily, " I wish that, while he has been kicking his heels waiting for you, he had amused himself better. There are girls hereabouts that-"

"Perhaps he preferred to amuse himself in town," said Kitty, serenely ; and then no .more was said, for Velasquez joined them, and in a few minutes they had roached the scene of : the 1 "meet." : - ? -v./"

A scratch assemblage had gathered outside a village public-house ' situated on . a gently rising ascent, whence pat some distance branched off roads 'añcTlühés, and the usual riff-raff of the idle neighborhood attended watching with avid inter- est the huntsman with his hounds, and the people who, irrespective bf the party, from the Towers, constituted themeet" that day.

These persons were, first, a farmer ou a .cob 5 secondly, a woman in honest petticoats and- a jacket, on a stout pony 5 thirdly, a boy on a Shet- land ; and fourthly, a young man who sat his magnificent bay squarely, and with a sturdy look that signified it would take a good deal to move him from his present situation. ;

He was not in scarlet, and, in point of fact, his father was very ill at that moment, but he saw in this no reason why he should not be present ; for Kitty was first, and he would see her, aud get a glint of her bright eyes, if nothing more ; so there he sat sturdily, and cared for nobody-but Kitty,

Yet when tho van of the bright cavalcade from the Towers, numbering in all about two hundred, had come Hp quickly, and gradually scattered hither andthithor, hut loft a clear space to the humble followers of . the chase before men-

tioned, though many a greeting was sung out to j Jack Stormonth, he-replied but by *a nod, br a | touch of his whip to his. hat, for he was watching for Katharine, who, when she came, Velasquez at her side, did not ooo bim.

Did she seo hun ? Ts love so blind as wo think ? Does he not make us hear when'we cannot seo, and feel when wo cannot hear ? (

Jack sat immovable^ hardly knowing if he were most angry or most hurt. She seemed so really unconscious of his presence.that he could not as- cribe her absorption in Velasquez to coquetry, and as the minute or two of waiting before tho start

passed, he felt the anore coAvinced that she had l

not. seen him, hut resolved to niako her look at him before the day was done.

He had not meant to follow the hounds, but only to see her ; to exchange one long look, and ride away ; but now he had changed his mind, and fell in with the rest when the huntsman galloped for- ward, leading the way to Dingley woods.

" Why, man !" cried a cheery voice near him, "are you going to your own funeral?" and Jack txu"ned to find Squire Dalgety's faco at bis

elbow.

"Not I," said Jack, laughing j "but I dare say I sball get a spill. I always do, you know."

" How is your father ?"

" Better, but still very ill."

"Humph !" grunted Squire Dalgety, "then why are you here ?"

" I came to see a young lady," said Jack, auda- ciously.

"And the young lady won't see you," said the Squire, with another grunt of dissatisfaction 5 "what have you been up to in town, youug

man ?"

" Oh, nothing sir, nothing !"

There was a slight flush on Jack's cheek, that seemed to belie his words, and tho Squiro shook

his head.

"Dashwood's a fool," ho said, "to keep you so long apart 5 but . I shoiüd have thought almost any man might have kept straight for the sake of a Kitty Dashwood. And I can't make that fellow out," he added, nodding at Velasquez, who, with Katharine, was far ahead5 "he calls himself by a foreign name, and looks every inch a Fitzhugh. Yet Dashwood receives him, and lets the young people be together to their hearts' content. I3. ho afraid of the fellow ?" added tho Squiro, tum« ing sharply, and fixing suspicious eyes on Jack.

The young man hesitated. Ho could not betray his cousin, whose secret was his own, but he did feel that he hated him very heartily as ho looked at the two dwindling backs before him, and the demon of jealousy was gnawing at his heart each moment with sharper fangs.

" I don't think Mr. Dashwood is in the habit of

being afraid of anybody," he said, " and I think you aro judging Kitty-Miss Dashwood-without a hearing."

" Humph !" said the Squire again, " I am not so sure about that. I rode up with her, and she dropped a word or two, and I gave her a hearing, of course, and unsatisfactory enough it was."

"She was faithful enough to me less than a week ago/' said Jack, stoutly 5 then checked him- self, and by the f riskings of his horse contrived to puta space between himself and the Squire that rendered further conversation impossible. In the halt outside the woods he found himself so close to Katharine that he could hear her voice, and admire, as he willed, the, exquisite shape in its gray habit, the lovely face beneath the gray hat, and the skill with which she managed the fiery black horse that not another woman present could haye ridden. But in point of fact ho did not ad- mire her at ali just then. (i If sho be not fair for mo, what caro I how fair she be ?" and he longed to give her a good shaking, and a large piece of

his mind.

? ? A.good many women present had been wonder- ing who was this handsome, deteruaiued-looking young man who seemed to know so many people, yet. had not been included in the invitations to the hunt breakfast at the Towers. More than one roving glance of admiration'played on him, and perhaps he was not quite unconscious of tho unwonted loveliness around him, but for tho present, at least, lie would leave, the honors of jilting with the faithless Kitty, and take Ms own revenge by-and-by. :

A woman who did not ca st eyes at hun, or, indeed, seem to be aware of his presence, wa3 Mrs. Vivien 3 yet by imperceptible degrees she contrived to get so near to him that she was only a few yards behind when the deep baying of tho hounds proclaimed a " find," and without cere- mony, the field pushed forward to follow.

But whoever followed Jack Stormonth that day must have ridden far and fast, though not fast enough to overtake a certain grey habit that fluttered almost recklessly in the very van of the field, and later came in at the death, of one of tho

best runs of the season.

Stormonth might have been present, but that, after leaping a brook, a female voice in accents of distress piu'sued him, and he turned back to lind Mrs. Vivien, seated on the ground, nursing her ankle, while from the other side of the water her stead gazed at her as if deploring the accident that had taken her over, but left himself behind.

"That brute has thrown me," said the lady, with a very good- imitation of tears in her eyes, " and I believe my ankle is twisted pr broken, and

how am I to get nonie ?"

" Ali !" said Jack, " I remember you."

" It would be more to the point, sir," she said, tartly, "if you were to assist me."

He groaned inwardly as he turned and saw the last straggler of the hunt disappearing j in a few moments his chance would be over of seeing Kitty again that day, and he did not believe this woman

was hurt in the least. .

" If you will let me put you on my horse, I will lead him round to where you can mount your own," said Jack, adding rather heartlessly, "and then no doubt you will be able to follow with the

rest." ,

i "Bruto !" said Mrs. Vivien, with a flash of the j eye that should have slain him, but he only picked her up as if she were a child, sether in the saddle, and putting his arm. through the reins, brought her by a somewhat roundabout way to the Gpofc whero hor steed should have been, but was not.

" Confound it !" said Jack, under his breath, heartily, and Mrs. Vivien turned her head asido to avoid a smile. At the distance of a , couple of fields her smart nag was making a bee-lino for the Towers, having evidently hunted to his stomach's

content.1

- "What is to be done ?" said Mrs. Vivien, turn- ing, a concerned faco on the young man. " I havo spoiled your day, and I have got yoiu1 horse, and how aro you to -walk all tho way back on foot?"

" Jack's good-humour was returning. To bo sure, his chanco of seeing Kitty was gone, but, on tho other hand, ho-had-ardently wished for the opportunity of meeting Mrs. Vivien again, and J now he had got it. .

" I can manage the walking," lae said, "if yon can manage the saddle." Then, in stooping to shorten the left stirrup, he discovered that the lady had as remarkably pretty a foot as he had already discovered her to be a remarkably lovely

woman,

" "What is her game ?" he thought as ho gave her the reins, and walked beside her on the thick wet grass, while she looked at him over hei shoulder, and wondered if he had about his person that precious bit of paper which she coveted above everything in the world.

"Do you know that you are in my debt?" she said to him, suddenly.

" Only for the honor of your company," said Jack," on this and a former occasion."

"And on the former occasion," said Mrs. Vivien " you snatched (and it's not a pretty word, but it exactly expresses tho truth) a paper from me; and I ask you, as a gentleman, to give me that paperback."

" Unfortunately," said Jack, dryly, " I was au- ditor, if not actual witness, to the theft of that paper, from a place where Mr. Dashwood had a few minutes before placed it for safety. I there- fore consider it my duty to restore it to him as

the real owner."

She could have struck him with her gauntleted hand as ho walked beside her j if he had turned, he must have seen the passion that deformed her face, but he was looking straight before him, and

her voice was natural when she said :

" Tou know the contents of the paper, of

course ?"

" Do you ?" he said, turning his head to look

at her.

"Mullinger Dashwood and I have few secrets from each other," she said, calmly, "but this I can toll you, that your giving him back that paper will make you impossible to him as a son

in-law."" .

" And why ?" exclaimed Jack, startled.

"Is he a man to be forced to. anything at the sword's point ? ' Let alone, he may relent long before his daughter is of age, but show him that you think you have him in your power, and ho will allow her to drift into a marriage with

Mr. Velasquez.

"Impossible!" cried Jack s "there are reasons -" .he checked liimBelf, then said : " and you appear to bo reckoning without Miss Dashwoods consent." \ ' ? - ' ' ,-?> :..

Ile was looking "hard, at Mrs. Vivien now, and ho caught th Ostlutter of the eyehds, the faint drooping of ..the lips, and other intangible signs by which ayyvoumn expresses so much moro than she dároslo say. :

" Youoinean that her consent would be forth-

coming'?" said poor Jack, hoarsely, and stopping short in the midst of the ploughed field into which he had pludged.

" He is very good-looking," said Mrs. Vivien, thoughtfully, "and very fascinating, and ho is always beside her, and you are always away."

Jack laughed, and tossed his hoad high in the air. ^ You don't know Kitty," he said. Nobody

does as well as I do."

"?So you won't give me that bit of paper ?" said Mrs.. Vivien, as they reached tho road, and a clatter of approaching hoofs threatened to disturb

their teio-a-teta.

"No.! I ll keep it for tho present."

A moment later and Mallingor Dashwood carno into view, splashed and miry, as one who had

ridden m hot haste.'

: (TO BB CONTINUED.)