|Chapter Number||XVII (CONTINUED)|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
(From English, American, and other Periodicals.)
" Merciful sakes alive ! whatever in the world has happened to you, Miss Star ?" she cried, when, on thrusting her heated face in at the door, she saw the young girl in her wretched condition lying on the
" I believe I do not feel very well this morning,' Star said, wearily.
"I should think not, indeed ! You've got a high fever, and yet you're shaking with the cold, Good- ness gracious, child ! and you all dressed out like this to ! What has happened ?" Mrs. Blunt cried, aghast, as she pulled back the coverlid and saw at a glance that she had been lying all night in her clothing.
Star was too miserable to explain, as the good woman saw, and she did not press her with ques- tions ; but with nimble yet tender hands she removed her clothing, replacing it with her robe de nuit, and then wrapping her in a heavy blanket she tucked ber snugly into bed once more.
She then went below where she prepared a steam- ing drink of some kind, with which she hastened back to her patient, and insisted that she should drink it-" every drop."
The poor child obeyed, feeling too wretched to offer any objections, and then saturating a napkin with camphor and water, Mrs, Blunt bound it about her aching head, and darkening the room, bade her go to sleep again as quickly as possible, for of course school waa not to be thought of that day ; and indeed Star had forgotten the existence of such an institution.
The hot drink warmed and soothed her, while the
kind attention of the woman comforted her, and ex- hausted nature asserting herself, she soon dropped into a profound slumber.
It was late in the afternoon when she awoke again and realized that she was much refreshed.physically, although her burden of misery was still crushing down upon her heay*0'.0 '
Mrs. Blunt found her white and wan as she had
been flushed anlets-uisb, when she looked in upon her again just-more dinner, and she could not understand the wok of hopeless despair that lay in her usually bright and joyous eyes.
" Whatever in the world is the matter with you, Miss Star?" she asked, anxiously. "It'll be bad luck ror me if you are going to be sick, for since you came into the house, with your bright face and cheery ways, the days and months have grown shorter by half. Come, come, chicken, don't look so down- cast-it breaks my heart to see you so white and drooping."
" I shall be all right by to-morrow, Mrs. Blunt, I am better already, thanks to your kind care," Star returned, sitting up in bed, and trying te bring her shattered nerves into better order.
" If you will please hand me my school-dress," she added, " I think I will get up, and take a run down to the lodge. I have not seen Uncle Jacob since yesterday morning and he will wonder what has be-
come of me."
Indeed, child, you mustn't go out to-night, and as for Mr. RoseveIt, he knows all about you already: I sent word to him before noon that you wasn't able to go to school, and he's been up to the house twice since to inquire for you. He sets a store by you, Miss Star, and I believe it would break his heart if any- thing was to happen to you."
A wan little smile flitted over Star's face.
It was about the only ray of light or comfort that she had in her great darkness-this knowledge that there was one who did really love her, and to whom she also was almost a necessity.
She could rely on " Uncle Jacob," if upon no one else, and she longed to go to him and lean upon him now in her trouble. Of course she could not tell him how she let handsome, fascinating Archibald Sher- brooke win her heart from her, and then found all too late how cruelly she had been deceived. She was so thankful now that she had not allowed him
to tell Mr. Rosevelt as he had wished, though, perhaps that had only been another ruse of his, and he had not intended to tell him after all ; but it would be a comfort to go down to the lodge and see him, and listen to the kindly tones of his voice.
Mrs. Blunt helped her to dress, for she saw that she was glad to sit down by the window-though she shuddered as she remembered that she had sat just there last night when her heart had been broken -and rest while she began to fear that she should not be able to get down stairs after all that night, to go to see Mr, Rosevelt,
Mrs. Blunt watched her closely with those small, keen eyes of here, and saw that her trouble was more of the mind than of the body, through what could have caused it was a puzzle to her.
She did not trouble her with conversation, but after making her room tidy, she went quietly out and left her alone. She returned after a little while, however, bringing her a bowl of hot soup and a plate
of nice little biscuits.
"You are very good to me, "Mrs. Blunt," Star said gratefully, and she ate the soup with a relish, for she was very faint and hungry, while the house- keeper looked on with with a satisfied air, as she saw a tinge of color coming back to her pale face.
. "Somebody else was good to a poor old woman yesterday, or I'm much mistaken ; and I reckon it'll
take a good while for you and me to be quits on that day's work," the kinid-hearted creature re- turned, a tear starting to her eyes as she remembered how bright and happy the fair girl had been during those long hours while she had worked so busily and patiently with her.
But she could not stay with her, much as she wished to do so, and try to bring back her truant smiles, for her many duties called her below, and she went away cautioning Star to be very careful
and not take more cold.
Left alone the unhappy girl felt that she must get out and away from that close room where she had suffered so much-she must do something to make her forget, or her brain would be turned.
So wrapping a shawl about her, she stole down a back way, out by a side door into the grounds, and taking a circuitous path, made her way as rapidly as her strength would permit toward the lodge.
She had accomplished about half the distance when her limbs began to fail her, and she became so weak and faint from the exertion she had made that she was obliged to stop and lean against the trunk of a large tree to rest awhile.
It was nearly dark, for the sun had gone down and the heavy foliage of the surrounding trees made deep shadows all about her; the air was chill with the breath of the frost spirit-so different from the mild loveliness which had prevailed only forty-eight hours before-and the rustling leaves above her seemed mourning over the fate awaiting them, when its cold hand should sway their frail stems and lay
A feeling of unutterable woe overcame her-such a sense of loneliness and desolation that she could not bear it, and covering her face with her hands, she gave way to the flood of tears which would not
She had no idea how long she wept-time, place, everything was lost in the utter abandonment of her grief-until she was aroused, and a thrill of terror went tingling through all her nerves as a hand fell suddenly yet lightly upon her shoulder.
With a start, her hands dropped from her tear stained face, and she looked up to find the grave questioning eyes of her faithless lover looking down
into her own.
A low cry of surprise and dismay escaped him as he recognized her.
" Star, my darling ! what does this mean ?" he asked, in astonishment. " How came you here, and why do I find you grieving thus ?" You look more like some stricken white dove than like my bright, beautiful Star. I was coming to you to-morrow-I wanted to come to-day, but I could not. Tell me, dear, how is it I find you here in the grounds of Mr. Richards where I am visiting ?" and he would have gathered her into his arms but by a quick movement she evaded him, and stepping back a few paces, she confronted him with a haughty up- lifting of her small head, her face and eyes glowing with scorn and indignation.
" To-morrow you would have come to me," she re peated, with curling lips ; " pray, where would you have sought me ?"
" Here in Yonkers, at No. 56-street, I think that was the address you wrote on the card," he said, apparently bewildered by her strange conduct and regarding her with a troubled look. " I wanted to go there to-day, but there has been no oppor- tunity," he said again. "And to-morrow I was in tending to ask Mr. Richards to direct me to the address which you gave me,"
" Do you know the street and number of this resi- dence ?" Star asked, sternly,
" No ; when it was arranged that I should come here to make a short visit, Mrs. Richards was so kind as to say that her carriage should meet at the station, so that I do not even know the name of the street on which they live."
"Then to-morrow, when you should ask to be di- rected to the address which I gave you-if, indeed, you intended to ask for it-you would have been told that you would find me here in this place-this house. Mr.'Richards' residence is No. 56-street," Star said, proudly and coldly.
She had no faith in him ; she believed he was act- ing a part,
" Impossible !" he cried ; " I never dreamed of such a thing ! Why, then have I not been you ? Why were you not with the family when I arrived last night ? Why have I not seen you to-day ?" he asked,
as if more and more astonished.
"Because," she answered, her voice rising, with a scornful, bitter ring, "l am dependent upon the bounty of the rich ; because I am a burden and ex- pense in a house of luxury, and only tolerated on account of a promise made to my dying father, and to cancel a debt due to my mother. You have not
seen me, because I am not allowed to breathe the same air, eat, and drink, and sit at the same table with those wLo think tbey are of finer mold than I. But it is just as well, my lord-"
" My lord I" he repeated, in a startled tone, inter- rupting her- " Star, that from you !"
She laughed bitterly, lifting her head with a haughty gesture, though her face gleamed like a piece of marble in the waning light,
" Yes, that from me !" she said. " Fortunately, I was at a window above the entrance when you ar- rived last evening, and witnessed the honors that were heaped upon my Lord Carrol of Carrolton, and the revelation of your true character, although a sudden and bitter one to me, was perhaps after all a providential one ; for, if it showed me how I had been duped and betrayed, how I had been made the plaything of an idle hour ; it also gave me time to collect my scattered senses a trifle before meeting you and telling you how I scorn you for-"
" Duped !- betrayed !-plaything ! Star, listen to me!" pleaded the young man, his breath almost taken away by these startling accusations, and by her wild words, so full of derision and pain.
" No, I will not listen to you !" she cried, passion- ately ; " I have listened to you too much already Oh, why did you do this wicked thing ? Why could you not have left me alone ? Ead you not enough already with your riches, your title, and your life of pleasure, without coming in cruel sport to spoil a poor young girl's life ? Was it not enough that you could woo and win the heiress-the belle and beauty of Long Branch, without the amusement of trying to win and break my poor heart.
"Star! Star!" he cried, drawing nearer the ex- cited girl. " What wild, wild words ! Every one is like a dagger plunged into my heart. You do not know what you are saying, dear-I try to win and break your heart Í My poor darling, you have been misled by having learned of my title. I should have told you before, but-"
" Then you are Lord Carrol ?-you own it ?-you acknowledge it ?" Star interrupted, with a ring of wild despair in her tones.
When she had looked up into his face, into his kind and loving eyes ; when she had heard his voice so low, and eager, yet tender; when he had called her "his poor darling," and said her words were like a dagger plunged into his heart, her own had begun to thrill anew, and she almost hoped against hope that there was after all some mistake, in spite of what she had seen and heard.
But now he owned it-he was not Archibald Sher-
brooke at all ; he was the titled peer, and he had
sought to win her love under false colors, and all
the pain, and bitterness, and scorn returned, even while she waited breathlessly for his answer.
" Yes, I am Lord Carrol of Currolton ; but, Star-" " That is enough-I want to hear no more," she said, stopping him with an authoritative gesture of her white hand; " I will not listen to another word from your traiterous lips !"
She turned proudly from him, and would have left him, but be sprang forward, and seized her
They were cold as ice, and shaking as with palsy, and he was shocked by the hopelessness visible in her face as he looked down upon it.
"Star, my darling !" he began, in a voice that was almost stern from emotion ; " you shall listen to me. It is my right to be heard, and I can explain every- thing to you if you will but give me the oppor-
But sbe would not.
Pain, despair,* outraged pride, and affection made
her unreasonable and almost insane.
She flashed a haughty glance up at him.
Lord Carrol," she said, in her iciest tones, release my hands, if you please."
He dropped them as if they had been coals of fire, and drew back a pace or two from her, deeply wounded, while his own face was nearly as white and pained as hers,
" Star, you are wronging me more than you dream ; surely you will listen to my defence," he said, and his voice trembled with suppressed feeling.
Oh ! how she longed to yield and allow him to win her back ; how she longed to let him take her into his strong arms, and hear him murmur again those; tender words such as he had spoken to her so recently but remembering his attentions to Josephine last night, her looks of affection and pride, her bright face and happy laugh ; remembering what she had heard regarding his devotion to her at Long Branch, and the reason that had been given for his coming there to her home, she could not.
He had played the role of rich lover to the proud heiress ; he had acted that of a poor sweetheart with her-for had he not told her that he was an artist, but hoped to be able to take care of her, so that she need never know the meaning of the words poor and dependent again ; and now, with all this evidence before her, how could she help believing him false to the core ?-to have simply amused himself at her expense?
" You can have no defence to offer me, and I will hear nothing," she returned, coldly. "You have deceived me most cruelly ; you came to me as Archi- bald Sherbrooke-you used all your powers of fas- cination to make me love you as a poor artist, while you had already played the part of a rich lover in a different character at a fashionable watering-place. I congratulate you upon your marvellous success as an actor, my lord," she concluded, with scathing
A deep sigh broke from him ; her words hurt him keenly for he was very proud.
But he saw she was suffering, and he tried to be patient with her, feeling sure that if he could only make her listen to him all would be well,
" My dear," he said, gently, " you do not under- stand; pray let me tell you all about it, I swear that
I am both-"
"You need not swear-I know enough already Go back to my more fortunate cousin, Miss Richards, whom the whole household expects you intend to make Lady Carrol, She, I own, is better fitted to be the bride of a peer of England than the poor alien who is a burden upon her bounty. She will grace your proud home and name with her beauty; she will add to your riches with her wealth. But let me tell you"-and Star had no idea how superbly beautiful she was as she stood so proudly before him and uttered this prophetic sentence-" that the girl whom she has despised and insulted, whom you have deceived, and whose life you have blighted by your treachery, will yet rise to a position that shall shame and humiliate you both, Go back to her, I say, and -ask her for the cameo which you gave me. I told you that I had lost it; I put it that way because I did not like to tell you how badly I had been used by those who should have given me only sympathy and love ; but she-the girl whom you have come to win for your wife-stole it from me-my one little treasure, the only ornament I had which I could wear in my humble position, and which I prized more than anything else in the world. But let her keep it-I relinquish it freely, now that I have dis- covered the baseness of the giver. My Lord Carrol of Carrolton, Alias Archibald Sherbrooke, the artist, I despise you, and I bid you farewell !"
She was gone before he could hardly realize that she had ceased speaking ; she had sped down tbe avenue with the lightness and swiftness of a fawn leaving him dazed, bewildered, almost paralyzed from the wild words, the terrible denunciations
which she had uttered.
" Star, Star, my dear love, come back and let me undeceive you," he called aloud, as soon as he could recover his senses sufficiently to speak.
But there was no answering sound save the sad sighing of the rustling leaves which had so un- nerved the unhappy girl a few minutes before.
He followed the direction she had taken. He wandered about the grounds for full half an hour, but could discover no trace of her, and at last, feel- ing greatly disturbed, he was obliged to retrace his steps, and returned to the mansion.
He had stollen forth at the close of dinner to smoke, and to get away for a little quiet musing, for he had intended, as he said, to seek out his beautiful love on the morrow, and put upon one of the white fingers the seal to their plighted troth, and, this done, to tell her that he was both an artist and a peer of Victoria's realm,
During his stroll, and while thinking fondly of the bright girl, he had unconsciously strayed into the very avenue where Star had stopped to rest.
Wrapped in her heavy shawl, and with head bowed upon her hands, he had not recognized her, but thought it might be one of the servants perhaps who had got into some trouble.
Always ready to relieve suffering of whatever na- ture, he stepped up to the sobbing girl and gently laid his hand upon her shoulder to attract her at- tention, and when the tear-stained, suffering face of his own love was lifted to his, his astonishment rendered him speechless for the moment.
But it was a fact, nevertheless, that he had ap- peared in different places in different characters he was at once Archibald Sherbrooke and Lord Carrol of Carrolton ; how, we must let his own words explain.
" Poor child ! it is very awkward, and I never dreamed of any such denouement; but I cannot blame her. If she would but have given me one moment in which to tell her how it is-but she was
wild with pain," he said, with a troubled face, as he slowly went back to the house.
It is doubtless now made plain to the reader how he had happened to recognize the cameo ring upon Josephine's hand at Long Branch, and knew at once that it was the very stone which he had given Star
at parting on shipboard. ,
He did not like to question Miss Richards about
it, but he was deeply hurt when she told him that it
had been given her by a relative, for he felt sure that he could not be mistaken in the stone-there could not be another like it, for he had designed the figure upon it himself.
Yet to be quite positive about it, he had told her that it had belonged to a gentleman named Archi- bald Sherbrooke, and then when he saw her start, and the color flame into her lace, be knew that Star had parted with it for some reason or other. It had caused him a pang to know that she should have prized it so lightly as to give it away, while he had treasured that lock of gold as one of the most precious things in his possession, and had learned to love the face which he had painted as he never expected to love any object on earth.
Then he had met Star, and she had told him, not thatmshe had given his gift away, but that she had
" lost" it,
The two stories did not agree, but looking into har glorious, truthful eyes, he had believed ber, and felt that some time she would make the mystery plain.
He had told her, on parting from her Saturday evening, that he should come to her Monday or Tuesday, and he had really intended doing so, and was deeply disappointed at not being able to keep his promise.
But all day Tuesday he had seen no time that be could escape from the company of which he seemed to be the centre. He had about made up his mind to ask Mr. Richards to direct him to No, 56 street, after dinner, and go away and spend a quiet evening with Star; but Mrs, Richards upset this plan by laying out a programme in which he would be obliged to figure largely, and he was forced to bear it with what patience he could, hoping that the mor- row would bring him the opportunity he desired.
He had never imagined that he could be a guest in the very house which he was so anxious to visit, and which was the home of his beloved ; and the knowledge now was not pleasing to him, for Star's bitter words, and the fact that she had not mingled with the family, told him but too plainly how she
was undervalued there.
How she must have suffered, sitting at her window, as she said she had done, and been a witness to tbe reception which had been tendered him by her proud, cold-hearted relatives ; and to have been led too, by them, to believe that he had come there as a suitor for Josephine's hand.
This had been rather of a startling and unpleasant revelation to him, for he had never once imagined that any such construction would be put upon his
He had been drawn toward Mrs. Richards upon first meeting her, for she was really a fascinating woman, and upon learning that she was of English extraction, and that he knew something of her rela- tives, he at once felt almost like an old acquaintance, and in this way had been led to attach himself to her party.
Josephine was a brilliant and attractive girl, and had made herself very agreeable to him, and he liked her as a friend and acquaintance; but no thought of love for her had ever entered his mind that fair face, with its crown of gold, its starry eyes and coral lips, which had lain upon his breast at sea, had made too deep an impression upon his heart to be easily forgotten.
But now, just as he thought he had won her when he was on the verge of claiming her, he found himself in deep waters, from which he feared it might be somewhat difficult to extricate himself.
Star had a right to denounce him, believing what she did, He had parted from her on Saturday even- ing as Archibald Sherbrooke and her accepted lover, while on Monday she had seen him driven in great style to the Richards' mansion, and greeted as Lord Carrol, and a suitor for the brilliant Josephine's hand. Surely, circumstances were against him,
" I must get out of this muddle as soon as pos- sible," be said, as he ascended the steps and paused a moment on the porch to consider what he ought
Entering the house, he avoided the drawing-room, where a gay company was assembled, and passed on to a music room which led into the library.
Mr. Richards was in the latter room, seated at his desk, and the door between the two was open. As he saw his lordship, he arose, and came forward to
" Can I have a few moments' conversation with you ?" the young man asked, gravely.
" Certainly ; as many as you wish. Shall we retire to the privacy of the library ?" returned Mr. Rich- ards, who at once jumped to the conclusion that he was about to receive a formal proposal for the hand of his daughter.
So also thought another listener, who happened to be standing on the veranda just outside the open window of the music-room, and who had caught
the above sentences.
" No," Lord Carroll returned, " What I have to say can just as well be said here as anywhere. I find myself unexpectedly in a very unpleasant sit- uation, and I have come at once to you, because I consider straightforward course the wisest, al- ways, to pursue. I wish to tell you a little story, and then ask your assistance in correcting an awk ward,mistake."
"Anything that I can do for you, my lord, I shall be most happy to do," blandly affirmed Mr. Richards, little realizing what he was promising, while he followed the young man's example and sat down to
listen to his narrative.
" I came over from England nearly a year ago, on the steamer -," he began, " and on board that vessel I met a young girl of great personal beauty and intelligence, in whom I became intensely in- terested. Sbe could not have been more than six- teen years of age but her mind was far in advance of both her appearance and her years while it was evident that she had been reared with great care, for every word and act betrayed her to be a perfect little lady, and every day spent in her society only served to make ber more attractive in my sight. At parting, I gave her a trifle as a souvenir of our pleasant acquaintance, and asked in return for something to keep in memory of her. I did not know that I should ever meet her again, and had I not done so, the remembrance of what I had enjoyed in her society would eventually have become, it is probable, but a pleasant episode of the past, al- though I must confess that her face haunted me continually.
" But I did meet her again and only a very short time ago. She had changed-developed into even greater beauty, and had become more mature, and I began to realize at once that I had even a deeper in- terest in her .than I had imagined possible. Subse- quent interviews-for Í took pains to see her often -and the study of her character, convinced me that I had found the woman whom I could love with all my heart, and whom I should win for my wife if I could..'
A rustling of the drapery at the open window just then made the young lord pause ; but hearing noth- ing more, he thought the wind had simply stirred the curtains, and continued :
" Within a very few days I have brought things to a crisis-have in fact asked and secured a promise from her to become my wife as soon as she shall have completed her education, and I had intended to-morrow to seek an interview with her friends, and make formal proposals for her hand.
''This may sound rather strange to you knowing my position, and realizing something of the prejudice of the English against marrying outside the pale of their own rank. But I was convinced from the first that this young girl was of good blood and parentage, and upon a more intimate acquaintance with her I have learned that her mother was an English lady from an excellent family.
" Now what I have to tell you," Lord Carrol con- tinued, with a smile, " has a slight touch of romance connected with it. When I left England, I came away known as Sir Archibald Sherbrooke baronet. Two months after my arrival here I was notified of the death of my mother's only brother-Lord Carrol, of Carrolton, and who, being a widower and childless, willed his estates and all that he possessed to me, with the provision that I wes to assume his name and consequently his title.
" It would have suited me better to travel and remain plain Archibald Sherbrooke, as I always called myself, until my return ; but I was with a company of friends-all artists, who were travelling and studying with an old painter-who knew all the circumstances, and they would not hear a word to my remaining incognito, and insisted upon introduc- ing me everywhere by my newly acquired title.
" As plain Archibald Sherbrooke I met, wooed, and won the young lady of whom I have told you, but I intended, when I formally asked for her hand, to reveal the circumstances which have made me Lord Carrol. I have not for a moment thought of deceiv- ing her, for I abhor double-dealing of any kind ; but, notwithstanding, I find myself in a very awkward
"You will perhaps be surprised to learn that to-night, since going out after dinner, I met my betrothed by accident, and very much to my astonish-
" She had discovered that I have been sailing un- der two flags, or, as she supposed, under false colors. She had heard of my meeting your daughter at Long Branch as Lord Carrol, and the report seems to have preceded me, much to my surprise" here the young man colored from embarrassment-" that I intended something more than a friendly visit here, and she has passionately denounced me for my du- plicity-as it appears to her-and refused even to allow me to explain my position."
" This is a mistake that I wish you to help me rectify by securing an interview for me with her, so that I can exonerate myself from all blame in her sight.
Mr. Richards was greatly astonished at what he had heard, and in no small degree disappointed, for he liked the young man, and his wife had affirmed that Josephine was the magnet that had drawn his lordship thither, and she had also confidently asserted that he would propose for her hand before he left,
But, of course, he could not betray anything of this feeling after having been made the confidant of another love affair, therefore he said, with as much self-possession as he could command :
" The situation is somewhat unpleasant for you. I admit, my young friend, but I think it may be easily made right, I must confess I am much sur- prised by what you have told me-the story is cer- tainly romantic in every respect-and you met the young lady by accident to-night ? She is, then, a resident in Yonkers. Who may she be ? Perhaps she ia no one whom I know."
" She is Miss Gladstone, and your wife's ward, I believe," Lord Carrol replied, and bending a grave look upon his host.
Mr. Richards nearly bounded from the piano stool upon which he had been sitting at this start- ling intelligence, while outside that opeu window there was a sound'as of some one weakly sinking into a chair. But both gentlemen were so deeply engaged in the subject under consideration that they did not appear to hear it.
" Star !" ejaculated Mr. Richards, when he could recover his breath.
" Yes, sir, Miss Star Gladstone is the lady of whom I have told you," Lord Carrol replied, some- what coldly, for he could not understand why any one so lovely and accomplished in every way as Star was should have been so slighted and ill. treated in his family.
" But I do not understand-I cannot see-I-I beg pardon; but, to tell the truth, I am completely taken aback by what you have told me," Mr. Rich- ards stammered, for it was to him a most astound- ing revelation.
" I expected that my communication would sur- prise you ; but you cannot be more so than I was upon learning to-night that Miss Gladstone is a member of your family," returned his lordship,
" But you tell me that you were intending to call upon her friends to-morrow, and here you have been in the same house a day and a night already,"
"True: but I was not aware of the fact until within the last hour. Miss Gladstone gave me her address Isst Saturday evening. Here it is-you
can read it, It was late when I asked for it, and she wrote it hastily upon this card."
The young man passed it to his companion as be spoke, and Mr. Richards read the street and number
of his own residence.
"You will remember," Lord Carrol continued, " that I am an entire stranger in this place, and that I do not even know the name of the street upon which you reside, as Mrs. Richards was kind enough to say that some one should meet me at fhe station upon my "arrival. I wished very much to go to Star to-day, but courtesy demanded that I should not disarrange Mrs. Richards' plans. I fully intended, how- ever, to ask you to direct me to the place designated on that card to-morrow, never once expecting that I was already in the bouse where the lady of my
" And has Star never mentioned our name to you ?"
Mr. Richards asked.
" No ; she has been very reticent regarding every- thing connected with herself save her studies and her music, and I have not thought to question her on that point."
Mr. Richards' face clouded.
Star had good cause for being reticent, he knew, and the subject was becoming an awkward one for
" You say you met her to-night," he said.
" Yes ; I went out for a smoke and a stroll after dinner, and came upon her suddenly in the grounds. She appeared to be greatly distressed, and I, never suspecting the cause, pressed her to tell me. She turned upon me like an outraged queen, and de- nounced me in a manner that fairly took my breath away. She believed me to be simply Archibald Sherbrooke, an artist, until last night, when she saw me driven to your door, and received as Lord Car- rol, and, having heard exaggerated reports of my attentions to Miss Richards while at Long Branch, it is not strange that sbe should resent the seeming deception, for appearances are certainly against me. But a few words-will set everything right, if you will explain something of this to her, and secure an interview for me."
" Then it is our Star whom you want to marry, my lord," Mr. Richards said, reflectively, and as if he could hardly comprehend it even yet, while he wondered if they could ever live through the tem- pest which his wife would surely raise when she should discover that Star bad won the lover whom she was bending all her energies to secure for
. " Yes, hoping for your sanction of course," Lord Carrol answered, with a rising flush, for he could read something of what was passing in his host's
" But pardon me," he added, fixing a look of grave questioning upon his face. "Now that I find she is the ward of your wife, I cannot understand why I have not met her with the other members of your family."
" Ahem ! well," began Mr. Richards, with evident embarassment, " she has been very deeply engaged with her studies ever since she came to us-is am- bitious, you know, and also spends a great deal of ber time practising music ; and-my wife thought it would be best for her not to-to mingle in com- pany much until she had um-completed her educa- tion ;" and Mrs. Richards, sitting just outside that open window, where she had heard every word of the aboue conversation, thanked the fates that for once ber husband had smoothed awkward things over for her quite comfortably.
' Lord Carrol simply bowed in reply to this state- ment. It would not become him to question the truthfulness of what he had heard, but since his in- terview with Star, his opinion of the family changed very materially.
" Well, I am nonplussed, and I reckon that this state of affairs will create quite a commotion when it becomes known," Mr. Richards resumed, after a few minutes of thought, during which his surprise seemed to increase. "I never dreamed that our Star would ever step into such a chair of state, al- though she is of good blood, I believe." ,
" Of the best," Lord Carrol returned, decidedly. " She told me upon one occasion that her mother was a Miss Anna Chudleigh, of Chudleigh Manor; Devonshire. I know something of them, and they were a fine family, although I hate been told that they were very much displeased at the marriage of their only daughter with a clergyman of limited means. But-have I your sanction to prosecute my suit with Miss Gladstone? and will you arrange an
interview for me ?"
"Certainly, I shall do what you wish, and I must say that I am glad that things are turning out so well for Star. I have been very fond of her, for she is a bright and winsome little body about the house. She is talented, too, to say nothing of her beauty, and she will make you a good wife. I congratulate you both, and there is my hand on it, my lord," Mr. Richards concluded, heartily, and extending his hand to the young peer, which he took and cordially
But Mrs. Richards, ber heart filled with bitterest rage, felt as if she could have strangled her husband with a good relish for taking such an interest in Star's prospects, while the gorgeous air-caBtle which his own daughter had built was tumbling to the ground about his ears,
Mr. Richards then roee.
" I suppose you are anxious to see Star at once,"
" Yes, if you please. I desire to make my peace with her as soon as possible, for I know that she is deeply wounded, and I cannot rest until she knows the truth,"
" Very well ; I will go to her, and send her to the library. You will be free from intrusion there," Mr. Richards said, and immediately left the room ia search of Star.
He came back very soon, however, saying that she had not returned to her room, and no one had seen her that day save Mrs. Blunt, who told him that she had been very ill, and not able to attend school.
Lord Carrol's face fell at this information, and he realized more forcibly than ever what Star must have suffered from this unfortunate misunder- standing.
(To le continued.) ,