|Newspaper Title||The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950)|
|Trove Title||An Astounding Marriage|
AN ASTOUNDING MAREIAGE.
, ' BY A CORALIE STANTION, V. Author of 'A Jealous* Woman's Plot.' 'The ? Other Woman,' His Enemy's Hand.'
CHAPTER XL - i ? ; -
The splendid band charmed her soul with melody. As she gazed dreamily out to the blue sea, over which, stretched the sapphire vault of the sky, a strange peace seemed to well up in her and fill
her being, a peace born of the everlast ing beauty of Nature. / She was roused by a crash. A waiter,* hurrying with a tray full of glasses, poised, as by a miracle, '-on the palm of the upturned hand, had missed, his foot ing and slipped. The tray had crashed to the ground, spilling the contents of the cups and glasses. Mary felt a hand grip the folds of her long skirt and pull them into a safe and dry place. She looked up with'a smile of thankE, and found Philip Menzies beside her. The smile died from her face. 'He released her dress as if it burnt him. 'I beg your pardon,' he said. I did not recognise you.' 'It was kind of you, all the same,' 1 she answered distantly. Both of them were quite oblivious of the humor af the situation. 'How hot it is!' she' added; vith forced politeness. .Then, a little less coldly : 'I wish you would talk to V Douglas sometimes. I know he misses your companionship. I hate to be the cause of your estrangement. Please don't take it amiss.' 'I recognise your generosity/' he said, with a deep flush. 'Are -'ou sure that your- brother would care to renew ; the old tie?' r ? ', _, 'Do you think Douglas is so mean that he blames vou more than himself 1'
she asked indignantly. And' v this frank jjpeech seemed to break the ice a little. ' v ? ? ; 'Have you done nothing, Miss 'Au dain?' he hazarded. 'Forgive me for -(iit mentioning the subject again. But , have you taken no steps in the matter I spoke to you about the other day?' 'How anxious you seem to give your ' [ self up to justice!' she exclaimed petu ^ lantly. 'I wonder you don't inform* '', t against yourself!' 'You will not believe that I am anxious for your sake 1' he asked. 'Can*t ' you understand the feeling that makes a man long for anything that' he can look
upon in the light of something like atonement 1' 'What good will atonement do?' she asked in a low voice. 'Nothing ,can atone — nothing can undo the past.' . 'No,' he said; 'you are right. But there is something that^ can bridge the gulf that no repentance could.' /'What is that?' she breathed'. , And' fewva moment her eyes glowed' softly as they rested on his. '.'Love!' he whispered. She started to .her feet.
Tlow dare you speak to me like that!' she said, in an angry whisper. 'Do you tMnk' that because for an hour or two I imagined you had 'won my heart, I am pining for you still? Do you think- that because I am a woman, I should forgive everything the moment you tell me you are sony — which may or may not be true? I suppose you think I- should let myself be cheated, played with, lied to, and then go down on my knees to you and thamk you for picking me up! Once more I tell you that I never want to see you again!' Here is Lord Giltore. Perhaps you will leaye me now.' Philip turned away,furious at the blun der on his part which had called forth her indignant words. A glance towards the entrance of the Kursaal made him
spring iorward, just in time to eaten Lord Giltore, white and rigid, in his arms. 'It Js one of his attacks,' Mary whis pered. 'He told me any one might prove fatal. What are we to Ho 1' For an answer, Philip lifted the' still, inanimate form in hia strong arms, and bore him gently down the steps, across the short stretch of promenade, through rows of silent, awe-stricken spectators, into his hotel. Douglas was summoned. The uncon scious man was laid on a couch, and an English doctor was sent for. ' 'You had better, tell your sister,' the ]atter whispered to Audain. who had ex plained some of Giltore's earlier symp toms, 'this attack will be fatal. He will probably rally for an hour or two, but he can never recover.'
,- Douglas could not find the courage to tell the girl, so Philip undertook the task. '. 'Do you mean that he will die?' she ^rhispered. She broke down and sobbed like a soul in deadly anguish ; but she knew in her heart of hearts that it would be a deliverance for her. ' Two hours later Lord Giltore. opened his eyes. 'Mary! Mary!' was the only; feeble words on his lips. * She clasped his hand. She fell that she would 'have done anything, even fol lowed him into that dark unknown country he was bound for, to atone for the injustice of accepting his love and bringing him nothing in return. 'Mary,' he breathed, 'I am happy. Don't niourn for me. You have given me a foretaste of heaven on this earth!' Ho lingered all,day, with short inter vals of consciousness ,and long, death like hours of torpor. 'Don't be an^ry, Mary ! My will — I want you — to'have it. Be happy.' Good-bye, Mary.* I forgive everyone who has wronged me — for — your sweet sake!' These were his lasE words. ' ' Her brother led her away. Her self reproach was terrible. She had been honest with no one; not even with her self. She lay shivering all night,, pic turing to her self, in vivid colors, Lord
Giltore ? awaking in the new lite, where there were, no. shams, to realise that she .had loved' another man when she had promised herself to him. . How he would despise her! . She spent the next two Says in her 'room, refusing to speak. ? ' On the third day her brother broke in forcibly on hei\solitude, tb tell her that the dead man's solicitor had arrived; and that, by hia.will, made shortly be fore his death, Lord, Giltore had left her every penny of his personalty — the enormous sum of two millions sterling! . She shuddered at the news. Coals of fire were being heaped on he/ head. Every action of this man, whether alive or dead, made her feel more vile, more despicable. ''I cannot take' it,' she said to the dricd-up little lawyer. 'I cannot take his money!' ? '? 'I am afraid you -will have to, ma dame,' he said, with a twinkle in his old eyes. 'There are not many young ladies who would take your view of the case.' ' ? . ? To his profound astonishment, she took counsel with her brother., and im-, mediately made plans for the disposal of this stupendous' legacy for the benefit of various charitable works. And many a sad life made a little brighter in after days, mapy a lonely heart, many a weary body that was given a ,peep into the world of beauty and peace, owed it to the fact that repentance ate so deep into the heart of Mary ? Audain ,that she felt her only reparation was to spend the money of the man who 'had loved her for the good of- the millions of people who knew little of .the love that li^ans self-sacrifice.' ' To Mary's unspeakable relief,. Irnia came over on a short visit. This strong woman-friend was the only per son to whom she could unburden her
heart of its load of sorrow and self reproach. ' 'It is well for him that he died, -Mary !' Irma said. 'Well for him that he did not live to be unhappy-!' -J'Oh, you are enfel — cruel!' the girl cried. ' ? ( ? ' 'Tarn. only trying to show you your own .heart, Mary. The time has come to speak plainby. I know that' you love Philip Mcnzics. You know ,it yourself. Your 'pride has turned to obstinacy. You 'are ruining two lives!' 'I do not love him — I c!o not!' Mary said, with weary, reiteration of a false hood, she had cheated her soul with in all but a' few supreme moments ^vhen self-deception was impossible. 'You don't know what you are thinking about, ' Irma. He is flaunting his courtship of, another woman in my face — here in Ostend!' ' ; 'He is hcre-_jn Ostend?' - 'Yes. It was lie who carried Lord Giltore to the hotel. She is to beau tiful — this other woman. But surely he might have gone away!' There were' tears in her eyW , 'I don't understand,' Irrna said slow ly. 'Surely I have not. been mis taken !' But she said no more on the subject, and at luncheon iMary pointed
to; a couple walking outside, so near that she .c,ould have -leant down and touched them from her seat by the great open windows of the dining-room. The man was Philip Menzies. The woman was, tall, liark, dressed with exquisite simplicity, with great pearls at her throat and in her delicate cars. . 'VI cannot' understand !' Irma repeat ed to' herself . She would have staked her life on the man's sincerity- — on the genuineness of his love I for Mary. -'? ? (To be continued.) ?