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LORD OAKBURN'S DAUGHTERS.

BY THE AUTHOR OF “EAST LYNNE."

RIVALRY.

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CHAPTER XXXIX.

réunions of gaiety of the night, there would he Was it a scene of enchantment ?—such as be with some or other of them; more especially those we read of in the Arabian Nights ? would he be with Helen Vaughan. Do not Indeed it seemed like it. The assembly fancy he disliked it, although it was the fault rooms, brilliant with light, with garlands, of the young ladies more than of his ; Frewith mirrors and beautiful statues, were derick Grey was no more insensible to the thrown open to the outside, where the hang- charms of pretty girls than are other men. ing terraces, redolent with the perfume of the

Be And Luey saw all this ; saw it with the bitnight flowers, reposed so calmly in the moon- terest pain, with fierce resentment. It might light. If only from the contrast, the scene be, that things looked a great deal worse to would have told upon the heart and upon the her than they would have looked to unpre

The garish rooms, speaking of the judiced eyes, for jealousy, you remember, makes world and its votaries, hot, noisy, turbulent in the food it feeds on. He had not spoken to their gaiety ; the calm cool night, lying clear her; he had not told her that he loved ; and and still under the starred canopy of the blue it may be excused to Lucy if she took up the heavens ! Fairy forms were flitting in the notion that he never had loved her ; that the rooms, strains of the sweetest music charmed sweet consciousness that it was so, recently the ear; hearts were beating, pulses quicken- filling her heart, had been altogether a mising ; and care, in that one dizzy spot, seemed take ; and her cheeks tingled at the thought to have gone from the world.

with a scarlet shame. These Seaford assembly rooms were made Frederick Grey himself helped on the delugay for that one night, A fête in aid of some sion. Lucy's manners had so altered to him, local charity had been projected, and the first had become so unaccountably cold and haughty, names amidst the visitors at Seaford were that he was avoiding her in very resentment. down as patrons of it. The Right Honourable Ah, who knew ?-the intricacies of this the Countess of Oakburn's headed the list, and subtle heart of ours are so cunningly profound ! amidst the rest might be read those of Lieute

--it might be that this haunting of the other nant-General and Mrs. Vaughan.' The Vaug- demoiselles, this making love to them—if his hans and the Oakburn family had become flirtations could be called such—was but done acquainted. General Vaughan's eldest son to plague Lucy Chesney, and bring her love came to join them at Seaford, and he remem- back to him. In the midst of it all, Lady bered his one night of introduction years Oakburn had become acquainted with the before to Lord Oakburn's house. Lady Grey state of affairs. By the merest accident, her and Mrs. Vaughan were also intimate—the eyes, so long shut, were suddenly opened, and intimacy, you know, that we forma at watering she saw that Lucy loved Frederick Grey. She places, warm while it lasts, but ceasing when had little doubt that he returned the love ; the sojourn is over. So Lucy Chesney and she as little doubted that the passion was of Miss Helen Vaughan had been brought into some standing There occurred to her disrepeated contact, and—if the truth must be mayed memory the intimacy that had subsisted told—desperately jealous were they of each between them all in town ; the interviews other. Lucy heard the rumours obtaining in without number, in which he could have made Seaford—that Mr. Frederick Grey was “in love to Lucy had he chosen so to do. love" with Helen Vaughan. She looked The countess sat down aghast. She liked around her and saw, or thought she saw, many Frederick Grey herself beyond anyone she proofs to confirm it. That Frederick Grey knew ; but what of Lady Jane? Would she was the one object of attraction to half the deem him a suitable parti for Lucy? Would young ladies staying at Seaford could not be she not rather condemn him as entirely disputed ; the chief part of his time was spent unsuitable ? - - and how should she herself with them without any seeking of his own. answer to Lady Jane for her lax care of Lucy? They sought him ; they laid their pretty little Care ?-as applied to love ? Lady Oakburn in plans to meet him, to form engagements with her self-condemnation forgot that the one is him, to get him to their side. In the morn

rarely a preventive to the other. Sh did ing lounge, on the sands, in the walk, in the the best that she could do.

In her open ride or drive of the afternoon, in some of the straightforwardness she wrote that hasty letter

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to summon Lady Jane ; Lucy meanwhile murmur of hushed admiration followed Lucy remaining entirely ignorant of the discovery Chesney. and its results. Lucy had enough on her heart The waltz was over, and Frederick Grey just then, if not on her hands, in looking out made his way to Lucy. She affected not to for food for her new jealousy.

see him ; she had her head turned, and was It was not an ordinary evening at ordinary talking volubly to Fanny Darlington : he had sea-side gala rooms, but a grand fête for which to touch her at length to obtain her attention. the rooms had for once been lent, and to which “Oh, I beg your pardon,” she coldly said, everybody of note flocked, not only of the “Good evening.” temporary visitors, but of the local, standing “How late you are, Lucy! The dance for society. Much had been made of it, and the which you were engaged to me is over.” arrangements were of that complete, it may

be “I supposed it would be,” she said in her said superb, nature, not often seen.

bitter resentment. I told you at the time I be very sure the ladies' toilettes were not promised thatit was more than probable I should behind the rest in attraction.

not perform.” Lady Oakburn and Lucy arrived late. So " You will dance this next with me. I late indeed that Miss Helen Vaughan was think it is to be the Lancers." saying to herself they certainly would not Was she deaf? She made no reply whatever, come. The little Earl of Oakburn was with and her head was turned from him. At that them. The little earl was indulged a great moment, a gentleman was brought up and deal more than was good for him, especially by introduced to her; a little man who looked as Lucy, and his mamma had yielded to the young if he had not two ideas in his whole brain, gentleman's demand of “going to the ball,” with an eyeglass popped artistically in his eye, upon the condition that when he had taken a and his sandy hair parted down the middle, twenty minutes' peep at it, he should retire back and front. She did not catch his name ; quietly and be conveyed home by Pompey. it was Viscount Somebody, one of the county The delay in their arrival was caused by their notabilities ; but she put her hand within his expectancy of Lady Jane. Jane had tele. arm when he solicited the honour of it for the graphed to the countess that she was on her forthcoming quadrille, and was moving away road, and they waited to receive her. But it with him. grew late, and she had not come.

Mr. Frederick Grey's blood boiled up, dyeing As Lucy entered the rooms, her eyes were his brow crimson. He laid his hand on Lucy's dazzled for a moment by the blaze of light, and arm to detain her. then they ranged themselves abroad in search of I asked you first, Lucy." -what? Exactly in search of what she saw, She recoiled from the touch, as if there had and nothing less; of what her jealous heart had been contamination in it. “I beg your parpictured. Whirling round the room in the mazy don. Did you speak to me ?waltz, to the tones of the sweetest music, his “I asked you for this quadrille.

You are arm encircling her waist, his hand clasping engaged to me for it, not to him.” hers, his eyes bent upon her with admiration, If you are anxious to dance it, there's or what looked like it, and his voice lowered no lack of partners ”—and her tone stung him to whispered tones of softness, were Frederick with its indifferent coldness. “Plenty are waitGrey and Helen Vaughan.

A pang, almost

ing for you : Miss Lake, Miss Vaughan, Miss as of death, shot through Lucy's heart, and Darlington-look at them. Pray choose she shivered in her excess of pain.

one." Helen Vaughan looked well. She always did She moved away in her haughty pride ; &

Tall, regal, stately, fair : a fit com- looker-on might have said in her calm indifferpanion for the distinguished Frederick Grey

But every pulse in her body was and many were thinking so. But what was throbbing with pain, every fibre of her heart her beauty, compared to that of Lucy Ches- was sick with love-love for Frederick Grey. ney ?-with her retiring grace, her exquisite His face was ablaze with anger, and he stood features, her complexion of damask purity, still for a moment, possibly undecided whether and her sweet brown eyes ?

Both were

to make a scene and pull the little viscount's dressed in white; robes soft, flowing, fleecy

nose, or to let it alone. Then he went straight as a cloud ; Miss Vaughan displayed an elabo. up to Helen Vaughan and asked her for the rate set of ornaments, emeralds set in much quadrille. They took their places in it, vis-àgold ; Lucy wore only pearls, the better taste vis to the viscount and Lucy. for a young lady. Both of them looked Lady Grey was seated between the Countess very very beautiful, and the room thought so ; of Oakburn and Mrs. Delcie. The latter, an Helen Vaughan was praised in words, but a inveterate busy-body, one of those wretched

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people who can never let anybody else be at “ Lucy, you must know that you peace, her eyes sharp as a needle, her brain behaving very strangely to me. You heard active as a mischief-maker's tongue, watched me ask you for the Lancers, and you turned Frederick Grey and Helen Vaughan for some and engaged yourself to that little puppy, who minutes, and then turned to Lady Grey with a is not worth a kick. Will you stand up whisper :

with me the next?“Is it a settled thing ?” she asked.

Thank you : I do not intend to dance “ Is what a settled thing ?

the next. I feel a little tired." “That your son marries Helen Vaughan ?" He paused a minute, rose from his seat, and

It was the first time the idea had been stood before her. “ There must be some presented to Lady Grey. Living much in reason for all this.” seclusion, she had seen and known nothing of “ Reason for all what ?the doings of the outer world of Seaford. For your indifference to me." Her heart leaped up with a bound of dismay, “ You may think so if you please.” for she did not like Helen Vaughan.

" It looks very like caprice, Lucy.” • Pray do not mention anything so impro- Caprice? Oh yes, that is it.

It is bable,” she faintly said. " My son marry Helen Vaughan! Indeed I hope not !”

“Once for all," he rejoined, quite savagely, “ Improbable you call it ?” was Mrs. "will

you

dance the next dance with me, Lady Delcie's answer. "Look at them.'

Lucy ? "
Lady Grey did look. The Lancers were over, “No I will not. Thank you

all the same." and he was taking Helen Vaughan back to her He turned on his heel. place. He was bending down to talk to her, Lucy caught her little brother, who was and there was an impressement in his manner running up to them. that she, the mother, did not like. The “I am going home, Lucy. Pompey's come, evening's pleasure had gone out for her. and I am going without being naughty, because

Back came Lucy, escorted by the viscount ; I promised I would.” she sat down by Lady Oakburn. The seat “There's my darling Frank," said Lucy, next her was vacant now, and Frederick Grey bending over the child.

- Wish mamma good dropped into it. My Lady Lucy's cheeks grew night.” pale with inward agitation.

He was a brave, honourable little fellow, “ Lucy, what have I done to you ?

and he intended to go off blithely with PomDone ?” repeated Lucy, in a tone of pey, whose black face was seen at the door. supreme indifference mingled with a dash of The Oakburns were noted for holding a promise surprise. “Nothing."

sacred ; and it seemed that the future chief He bit his lip. Will

you tell me how I would be no degenerate descendant. Kissing have offended you ?”

his mamma, he put up his face to Lady " You have not offended me.”

Grey ; but that lady was too much engaged “ Then what is the matter with you ? ” pay attention to him, and the boy ran away with" What should be the matter with me ?

out it. Really I do not understand you."

Lady Grey had her face turned to her son. Neither in real truth did he understand She had pulled him to her when he was quitLucy. Frederick Grey was not a vain man, ting Lucy. Mrs. Delcie had left her seat then, and it never occurred to him to think that she and Frederick halted before it, listening to his could be jealous. He thought nothing of mother's whisper. that foolish dalliance-flirtation-call it what “ Frederick ! only a word—to ease my you will—in which his hours were often spent; troubled heart. Surely you are not—you are the society of those pretty girls was pleasant not falling in love with Helen Vaughan ! pastime, but to him nothing more. If Miss “I don't think I am,

mother." Vaughan threw herself rather more in his way The answer was given gaily, lightly. All than the rest did, he never gave it a second conscious of that other love so deeply seated thought ; and most certainly he did not cast a in his heart, he could afford to joke at this. suspicion that it was changing the manners of But he caught the anxious look of pain in his Lucy Chesney. In the few days that had mother's eyes. elapsed since her arrival at Seaford, he had “ You would not like her for a daughterbeen at times greatly pained by her behaviour in-law ?” he breathed, laughing still. to him. He had set it down hitherto to some “I confess I should not." unaccountable caprice : now he began to think

"Very well. Be at ease, mother mine, that her feelings to him were changing. And What put such a thing into your head ?” he had felt so sure of her love !

“ They say she is in love with you— that

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you love her.

They are saying she is your again floating on the air ; the fragrant flowers, chosen wife."

giving forth their strong night perfume, rose “I am much obliged to them, I'm sure. at her feet : all pleasant things in themselves, Who are they?'

but they grated inharmoniously on Lucy's “Oh-the room of course," replied lady heart. Grey. The people stopping at Seaford. What had become of the old bliss that had Frederick

made her days seem like a dream of Eden ? “Mr. Grey do waltz with me if you are

It was gone.

All had changed since their sonot engaged."

journ at Seaford ; the joy had left her, the The interruption came from Miss Fanny sweet half-consciousness of being beloved Darlington. She was quite young, and there- had departed, to give place to the bitterest fore deemed herself justified in acting as a child jealousy. or a romp.

He was not engaged, he said, and Why did Helen Vaughan so seek him ? laughed as he took her on his arm.

Why do girls thus beset attractive men ?-ay, “When is the wedding to be ?” she asked, and men who are not attractive ? Perhaps as he whirled her to the strains of Strauss's she hoped she should gain himn ; perhaps she music.

but thought to while away her idle hours. How“What wedding ?”

ever it might have been, it brought to Lucy “As if you did not know! It can mean Chesney fruits that seemed like bitter ashes. nothing else, when your attentions are But she had to digest them; and never, never marked. Mrs. Delcie says she knows for a had they been harsher or more cruel than at fact the general has consented.”

that moment, as she hung over the terrace in “ When did she say that ?

the moonlight. "A minute or two ago. She was talking to Her hands were clasped together in pain, me and Lady Lucy Chesney."

and her forehead was pressed upon the cold A change came over his features. Was iron of the rails, as if its chill could soothe this the secret of Lucy's inexplicable conduct the throbbing fire within. A cloud of images to him—some wretched gossip linking his name was in her brain, all bearing the beautiful but with General Vaughan's daughter ? All his dreaded form of Helen Vaughan, and—some gaiety seemed to have gone from him, and his one touched her shoulder, and Lucy shivered tone, as he spoke to Fanny Darlington, was

and looked up. changed into one of grave earnestness.

It was Frederick Grey. What had he come “Miss Darlington,

will you allow me to remind out there for ? He to see her in her abandonyou—as I most certainly shall Mrs. Delcie- ment of grief ! that to speak of Miss Vaughan in this way, or Lucy!” he whispered, and the tone of his of any other young lady, is unjustifiable. I voice spoke of love if ever tone spoke it. am certain it would seriously displease her- “ Lucy, are you ill ?” and it has displeased me.

She would have been glad to fling his hand He went through the rest of the waltz in away, to fly from him, to meet his words with silence. Miss Darlington grew cross, and scorn ; but she could not : for the heart will asked what had come over him. At its con- be true to itself, and the startled agitation clusion he looked for Lucy and could not see unnerved her. She shook like a leaf. her.

He gently wound his arms round her, he Lucy Chesney had gone out from the garish bent over her and poured forth his tale of loverooms : they accorded ill with her aching to be suppressed po longer : he told her how heart. In a corner of the terrace, shaded passionately he had hoped to make her his ; from observation by the clustering trees, she that if he had been silent, it was because he stood, leaning over the rails and gazing on feared the time to speak had not come. Lucy, the sloping gardens beneath, lying so cold and in the revulsion of feeling, burst into tears, still in the light summer's night. Cold and and yielded herself up to the moment's still was her own face ; cold and still her fascination. unhappy heart, for its pulses felt as if frozen “Oh, Lucy, how could you suffer this into stone. The waltz was over; she could cloud to come between us ?” he whispered. hear that; and she pictured him with her “How could you suspect me of faithlessness ? happy rival, whispering his sweet vows in her My darling, let me speak plainly. We have

She stood there in her bitter misery, loved each other, and we both knew it, though believing that he, whom she so passionately it may be that you scarcely acknowledged the loved, had deserted her for another ! The fact to yourself; but here, without witnesses sound of laughter, of merriment, came from save One, who knows how ardently and loyally the rooms ; the rich strains of the music were I will cherish you, under Him-surely we may

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lift the veil from our dearest feelings ! Lucy, thought or suspected love was arising between I say, we have loved each other.”

him and Lucy. Our great intimacy with the She did not answer, but she did not lift her Greys, and Sir Stephen's attendance as a mediface from its sheltering place on his breast. The cal man, must have blinded me. I would give moment of rapture, shadowed forth in her the world—should this be displeasing to you dreams, had come !

—to recall the past.” “I was not conscious until to night, ten Nay, do not blame yourself,” said Jane minutes ago, that my name had been made kindly. “It is very probable that I should free with, as it appears it has been, in connec- have seen no further than you.

Frederick tion with Helen Vaughan's. Lucy,” he re- Grey! It is not the match altogether that sumed, “I swear to you that I have not Lucy should make.” willingly given cause for it ; I swear to you “In some respects it is not.” that I have had no love for her, or thought Jane remained silent, coinmuning with herof love. I certainly have been brought self, her custom when troubled or perplexed. much into contact with her, for you have Presently she looked at Lady Oakburn. “Tell estranged yourself from me since you came, me what your opinion is. What do you think and the idle hours of this place have hung upon of it?my hands ; but I cast my thoughts back and “May I tell it freely ?” ask how far it has been my fault, and I believe “ Indeed I wish you would,” was Jane's I can truly say”-he paused with a quaint answer. “ You have Lucy's welfare at heart smile—“that I have been more sinned against as much as I have." than sinning.

Lucy, when I have been walk- “ Her welfare and her happiness,” emphatiing by her side, my heart has wished that it cally pronounced Lady Oakburn.

" And the was you : in conversing with her, I longed for latter I do fear is now bound up in this young your voice to answer me. Will you forgive man. In regard to him, as a suitor for her,

there are advantages and disadvantages. In Forgive him ? ay. Her heart answered, himself he is all that can be desired, and his if words failed. He bent his face to hers in prospects are very fair; Sir Stephen must be a the hushed night:

rich man, and there's the baronetcy. On the “ Believe me, Lucy, I love you as few men other hand, there's his profession, and his birth can love; I picture to myself the future, when is wholly inferior ; and—forgive me for saying you shall be mine ; my cherished wife, the it, Lady Jane—the Chesneys are a proud race.”

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me ?"

guiding-star of my home ; my whole hopes, "Tell me what your own decision would be,

my love, my wishes are centered in you. You were it left to you."
will uot reject me? My darling, you will not “I should let her have him."
reject me!”

Jane paused. “ I will sleep upon this, How little likely she was to reject him, he Lady Oakburn, and talk with you further in contrived to gather. And the twinkling stars the morning.” shone down on vows, than which none sweeter And when the morning came, Jane, like a or purer had ever been registered.

sensible woman, had arrived at a similar deci. Lucy, you will waltz with me now ?sion. The first to run up and greet her as she

She dried her happy tears ; and, as she quitted her chamber, was the little lord. Jane returned to the room to take her place with took him upon her knee in the breakfast-room, him in the dance, she laughed aloud. The and turned his face upwards. contrast between that time and this was so “He does not look ill, Lady Oakburn." great! Miss Helen Vaughan and the little “I have no real fears for him," replied viscount whirled past them, and Frederick the countess In a few years I hope he will darted a saucy glance into Lucy's eyes. It have acquired strength. Frank, tell sister made hers fall on her blushing cheeks.

Jane what Sir Stephen says." Lady Jane Chesney had arrived when they “Sir Stephen says that mamma and Lucy reached home. After Lucy had retired for are too fidgety over me ; that if I were a poor the night, Lady Oakburn opened her mind to little country boy, sent out in the corn-fields Jane ; she could not rest until she had told all day to keep the crows off, with only brown her all-how that Frederick and Lucy were in bread and milk for food, I should be all right," love with each other. Jane at first looked cried Frank, looking up to his sister. Jane very grave : the Chesney pride was rising. smiled, and thought it very probable Sir

“I could not help it," bewailed the countess Stephen was in reason. in her contrition. “I declare to you, Lady "Do you know, sister Jane, what I mean Jane, often as Frederick Grey came to us in to be when I grow up a big man ?” he conPortland Place, that I never for a moment tinued. “I mean to be a sailor."

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