Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“Don't forget to show any attention you train; and as he sat at lunch with his host and may be able to show to Miss Leigh, Kate,” | hostess, John Galton commenced laying amiable said Harold Ffrench the next day, as he was plans for further communion in town. standing before Mrs. Galtou's easel correcting “ I'm sorry you wouldn't wait and go off the touches she had given to her picture dur- with is, Ffrench. Kate will want you in ing his absence. He wanted to win some town, for I'm not much good at knowing kind of promise from her that she would show where it's best to go.” kindness to this girl, to whom he had been “ Where shall I address you, Harold, when aught but kind, when he was gone.

we do go up ?" Kato asked. · Forget! Am I likely to forget any request

" The old addres3." of yours ?”

"The Club ?" “She took an immense liking to you, fell

“ Yes.” in love with your beauty, and your 'way,' as “Why never at your lodgings ? you must she called it. You will be kind to her, won't have lodgings in town." you ?” and theu he felt a certain awkwardness “Because I am apt to change them.” when he reflected how indignant Theo would “What part of town are you in now ?” be, if she could but know that he had pleaded “ Belgravia.” to any one to show her kindness.

“That's sketchy. What street ?“Girls of that age are generally bores,” Mrs. “I have not decided yet. I shall look Galton replied, coolly. “ I'll be as civil as about to-morrow; to-night I shall put up at an the distance will allow.”

hotel ; so you see that I can give you none “She is not a bore.” He could not say other than the club address,” Harold said any more, he dared not trust himself to utter a hastily to John Galton, though it was John defence of Theo to his cousin.

Galton's wife, and not John himself, who had “Oh, isn't she? How I shall hate the asked for another auldress than the usual one. sight of any tubes and brushes and easel when And your engagements ? Are you going to you are gone, Harold.”

stay with any one, or to travel with auy one, “Get Miss Leigh over here and give her or what are you going to do ?” some lessons, you're quite capable of doing it.” Nothing Some people I knew on the

“I am getting weary of Miss Leigh before Continent are coming over to the raree-show, I know her. No, Harold, I couldn't desecrate and I have promised to meet in them in town; the taste you have developed in me by turning that is all.” it to account in that way. I will be kind to “Nice people ?” Miss Leigh in a way that a chit of a girl will He shrugged his shoulders. “Nice enough." appreciate far more fully. I will ask her “ Then introduce them to me, and I'll do here, and invite some good parti to meet and the honours of our great metropolis to them, fall in love with her.”

and save you the trouble.” The brush trembled in his hand. It was “ You are very kind. I will see about it." horrible to him to hear Theo spoken about in And, Harold, get us an opera-box next such a way, and yet what right had he to feel | Saturday; if you can I will go up on Friday." or resent aught on her account?

“ You shall have your opera-box on SaturDon't make jokes of that sort. You do day. By the way, some time or other I wish injustice to your own delicacy as well as Miss you would take Miss Leigh to the Opera, she's Leigh's by the suggestion.”

passionately fond of music.” “Do you think Miss Leigh's delicacy would “Girls of that age always are passionately revolt at a good marriage, Harold ? Poor fellow! fond” of whatever may be mentioned. Howhow completely your flower of the wilderness ever, I will take her to the Opera ; when do has deceived you. Trust me, if I bring her they go up ? out and give her the chance, I shall have a “ Next week.” nice little list of her conquests to forward you She darted a keen glance at him which asked in six months.”

as plain as possible, “ Are you going to meet “Then in God's name don't bring her them ?” out. I can't paint any more this morning,” He shook his head. he exclaimed abruptly. He left the room with “I shall be too fully occupied to ry

the a darkened brow and an ill-tempered haste, and Leighs attention : you do it for me, Kate. Mrs. Galton resolved that the chance should They have been very kind to me, and you can be given Theo ere long, for the mention of it requite it far better than I can." moved Harold more than was becoming in hci, “I fancied from what Kate said that you “ Kate's," vassal.

were going to requite it in the best way, if she's He was to leave the Grange by the three-o'clock a nice girl," John Dalton observed.

[ocr errors]

“Did Kate suspect such infatuation on my It never occurred to the girl to give forth part ?” Harold Ffrench asked. And Kate the story at once in either a vaunting or an blushed slightly as her husband answered. affectedly indifferent spirit. She had lived a

Well, I don't know that she did, only very quiet life, and had not been lightly won she wants to see you married, and so,


suppose, and lightly lost half a dozen times in the suspects you to be infatuated before you are.” course of it. Lively and light-hearted, and

“I must be off ; I shall only just catch the daring as none but a country-bred girl and only train. Good-bye, Galton, good-bye, Kate. daughter can be, she was subdued and gentled Don't plot for me." He whispered the last and rendered diffident at once by the truth, words as he bent over his cousin's head, and the reality, and almost solemnity, of the feeldiscreet Mrs. Galton answered aloud :

ing that had grown up in her heart for this “No, no, John is wrong.

I don't venture stranger. Her first love was a genuine one, to suspect you of infatuation, Harold, any more.

and Theo blushed at the influence it bad I made a mistake once. Good-bye."

already gained over her, and wondered at the “What mistake did you ever make about vastness of the chasm it had left at once your cousin, Kate ? " John Galton asked of between the past and present. his wife when he came back into her presence She had no very definite ideas as to what after seeing his guest off. “Did you ever might be expected to take place to-morrow. think he cared for anybody ? ”

She only felt that he would come and say “ Yes, it was long ago, dear, when I was a something which would entitle him to hold mere child, he seemed to admire a fashionable her hand in his own through all time if he girl whose name was—but what matters ? you liked, and leave her free to call him “Harold." are not interested in fashionable girls, nor am Then she murmured his name, first taking the I any more (till our Bijou is grown up); but it precaution to bury her head in the sofapassed off.”

cushion in order that no one might by any “Oh, did it?" John Galton replied, thought chance hear what would sound“ so silly.” She fully, and then he took both her sleuder white pictured him at his easel while she read poetry hands in his and drew her towards him. "Do to him through endless summer days, never you know, for half a minute I thought you thinking, poor child, that it can be aught but mean't yourself, Kate. I'm glad you didn't.” pleasant for a man to listen to metrical effu

sions from the lips of his wife while he is LOVE'S YOUNG DREAM. endeavouring to compose a picture. Theo remained in the room alone where he The hours passed quickly in the indulgence had left her after bestowing upon her that one of these happy visions, and then she was sumimpassionate kiss in which he had declared moned to supper, and she went in half-shrinkthere was no harm ; remained there alone for ing from the light, and strangely tremulous an hour after his departure, trying to think, in eye and lip, all happy as she was. Her and feeling too happy to accomplish it. happiness was as the down on the butterfly's

She heard Harold Ffrench's voice out in the wing to her : she dreaded touching upon it garden, and she knew that he had joined her lest one particle might be destroyed. father and mother, who were strolling about so new, so fresh, so delicate—so unlike anyin the soft evening air. But she judged him thing that she had known before. to be her own more especially now, and she Despite the wealth of womanly feeling that could not bear to share him with others, even had been aroused in her recently, she was with them, just yet. So she sat still on the more of a child than ever in her manner to couch upon which he had placed her when he her parents that night. Perhaps it was the was bidding her adieu, and wondered why he knowledge that she was longing to try her had found her fair, and how this marvel had wings abroad thai made her fold them so come to pass.

softly now. She sat at her father's feet and Her heart was throbbing audibly, but there rested her loving head on his knee, and held was no pain in the flutter ; it came from a very his hand between those two which had known fulness of joy, and was a commentary on the for the first time this day the pressure of anotidings that she would not venture to tell to ther love than his. Her mother, sitting oppoanother, that she was not ill pleased to hear. site, marked the brilliant colour in her face, He had told her he loved her! he had shown and marvelled that Theo should so soon have her that he loved her ! and he had said that recovered from that absolute fatigue which he would come to-morrow when the rest would Harold Ffrench mentioned as the cause of her be told, and would see it too, and the joy not joining them in the garden. would be a secret no longer, though not one

"You don't look tired now, Theo." whit less sweet.

“No, ma, I am not a bit tired.”


It was

“Ah, I thought the reason you didn't come muster, and show gratitude for the plan, and was that you were gone to see after Miss gratification in realising it, whatever fate might

of , hold of far

Mr. Ffrench said

, when your father asked why Dear papa, he means me to enjoy it,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you didn't come out."

and he shall see that I do enjoy it thoroughly,” “Did he say that ? No, I didn't go near she murmured to herself in her latest moments Miss Watson ; she gets on better without me." of coherency that night. On that resolution

“She will have to get on better than she she fell asleep and dreamed away the hours does if your things are to be ready by Tues- till the dawn broke—the dawn of the day that day ; this is Wednesday evening, and Saturday was to hear said those words whose promise she cau't come to me. I wish a later day had had been given to her heart already. been fixed for your going.”

It was not an easy thing to behave as if | “ Have you asked for leave, papa ?” nothing had happened or were going to happen “ Yes, and got it,” he replied.

the following morning. She knew that the “Oh dear ; do you know, after all, I don't hour or two which would probably elapse much care about going up,” said Theo, throw- before Mr. Ffrench, in accordance with his ing her head back against her father's arm. usual practice, found his way up from the She was thinking how pleasant it would be to Bull would appear interminable if she were meander about those marshes with Harold | not employed. She knew this, and yet she Ffrench in the glorious summer days that were was incapable of originating any employment coming “ If you had not written for leave, of an absorbing nature, or indeed of doing papa, I believe I should say don't go.”

anything save look out of the window and "The child's crazy,” Mrs. Leigh said, rising wonder when he would come. and beginning to put away her work.

“ There are those frills to be hemmed for No, she's not; she is only showing how the blue muslin, Theo,” her mother said to magnanimous she can be when her magna- her once when she came into the room and nimity can't accepted,” her father said, found Theo at that occupation which I have kissing her. “Good-vight, my child ; Ffrench just described. is going in the morning ; did you know it ?“ Yes, mamma.”

“ Yes ; that is, he told me he was going, “But you don't do them." but I don't think he will go,” Theo answered ; “ I will presently, mamma—this evening." and then she went off to bed, and prayed for “This evening you will be wanting to go and dreamt of Harold Ffrench, while her out, and then the frills will be forgotten ; they father and mother pondered over how much wouldn't take you an hour, you lazy child, money might in prudence be drawn from his and when they were hemmed I would put agents to expend in giving Theo a taste of them on, and the blue muslin would be relaxation in London.

finished.” This going to London, which bad been a “ Bother the blue muslin !” Theo thought ; dream of delight for some time past, sank now but she only said, “Yes, mamma, I'll get into absolute unimportance by the side of this them directly ; I am busy just now.” new delight which had arisen. She did not “What are you looking at?" Mrs. Leigh care an atom any longer about those specimens asked, coming to the window. of the arts and sciences which were collected “An energetic fly dodging a spider,” Theo by the enterprising and shown to the curious replied, promptly pointing out the spectacle in Hyde Park. It would be pleasant to look she described in the crevice of some rock-work. at them with Harold Ffrench ; but the dead “ You may see dozens of them any day," level of the salt marshes would be equally Mrs. Leigh rejoined. agreeable objects of contemplation in such Then, Theo's day-dream being dispelled, she companionship; therefore the tedious journey went in search of the frills for peace sake. might be saved. Then she remembered that He had said that he would come, and it the leave had been asked for and granted, and never occurred to Theo to doubt him; and this, that some of her father's brother officers in the not so much that she was dominated by her district might be put to inconvenience as to their passion for him, as that it would have seemert own contemplated absences, if he did not take his incredible to her that a gentleman should lie. when he could have it, and come back at the That men break every spoken and implied vow, appointed time. She also remembered that and still bold their honour stainless ; and that the giving this pleasure to her would be the women transfer their hearts and caresses from best pleasure her father had known for a long one lover to another, and still consider them. time. So, remembering these things, she selves chaste, she had yet to learn. The maresolved to go with all the glee she could | jority of young girls believe what is saiù to

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

them : it is their virtue and their fault. Extreme resolved that she would make no sign of her caution comes only from experience, and it is sorrow, for the sake of sparing those whose not desirable that girls of twenty should pos- only joy was in her. sess it.

“Give me a little bit of the brown, papa ? So she sat through the morning hours, hem- Thank you, that's just the bit I wanted,” ming her muslin frills, excited and nervous Theo said resolutely. Then she eat her bit of truly, but never doubtful for an instant that brown meat resolutely, with apparent appetite, the man who had pressed his lips to hers, and though the eating it at all was a terrible task. told her that in that ini passioned salute there “ I dare say Mr. Ffrench will call on you in

was no harm,” would come to her this day town,” Mrs. Leigh remarked presently. as he had promised. She would have been said so much last night about the kindness we as likely to suspect her father of committing had shown him ; it's little enough, I'm sure, petty larceny as to suspect this man (who had after all, but I don't think he's one to forget kissed her with a kiss that seemed to make her even trifling kindnesses." his own, it was so warm and wild) of lying. “I don't think he is,” Theo replied ; she

. Thus, with her strength unimpaired, her soul would not shirk the subject, but had she not unshaken by a doubt, she came to a knowledge been placed with her back to the light they of the wounding truth at once, and boro it. would have seen that, steady as were the words,

“ Ffrench has left, I find,” Mrs. Leigh re. the lips that uttered them were quivering. marked, as Theo seated herself, still excited Ffrench seems to have known many of the but still happy, at the dinner-table,

men I knew in Greece ; it's odd I can't recall “I think he inight have come up to say his name at all," Mr. Leigh observed, thought. good-bye,” Mrs. Leigh replied; and Theo felt fully, after a short pause.

“ There was a young that her mother was looking keenly and anxi- Englishman whose name,—by-the-bye, what ously at her.

was his name? I shall forget my own next," They mustn't be made unhappy,” the poor who joined the expedition in a casual sort of child thought; “ I'll speak at once.

way ; but I never met him, and I remember “ What took him away so suddenly, papa ? now his name was Linley, so it couldn't have he ought to have said good-bye to us, we have been Ffrench." been so friendly.”

“ Mr. Ffrench"-her tongue felt as if it She thought of that passionate kiss, and had a mountain of alum upon it as she said those impassioned words which had passed his name—"must have been too young for you between them the previous night, as she spoke, to think about in those days, papa ; being a and her brain reeled with the remembrance, young man yourself, I have no doubt that you and her proud young heart seemed as though despised boys.” it would burst with the sense of the indignity “ We must have come athwart one another that had been put upon it. But still she too,” her father rejoined, "for he was speaking spoke clearly; and she was rewarded for the last night of Mavrocordato and Church,-speakeffort she had made by seeing the anxious look ing of things that occurred in connection with pass from her mother's face.

them at the very time I was with them ; odd • We shall miss him very much. I wonder I shouldn't remember his name. whether he will ever come back, or if we shall “ Very odd indeed,” Theo thought, consi ever see him again,” Mrs. Leigh said briskly. dering what a spell that name held for her, but The words were kind to the departed stranger, she said nothing. Determined as she was not but the tone in which they were spoken told of to shirk the subject, she was not capable yet of the hope which she felt on the subject.

being an active agent in its continuance. “ Ever see him again ?” Yes, it had come In the afternoon of that same day, while a to this, that it was more than improbable that consultation was being held as to the proper she would ever see him again—this man who position which the frills were to occupy upon had won from and shown to her such signs of the blue muslin dress and mantle, Mrs. Leigh love as she could never exhibit to another. returned to the charge, and Theo was nearly His kiss was burning on her lips still; her heart asking for quarter. had not ceased those quickened bounding pul- “Do you know, Theo, I really can't help sations to which his own had responded when thinking it somewhat extraordinary that Mr. he clasped her to his breast lastn ight! He Ffrench should have gone off in that way. had set his mark upon her, and she could never “ In what way, mamma ?again be as she had been before ; she felt this “ Without coming near us to say good-bye ; with a burning brow in the midst of her agony don't you ?” at losing him at all. But even as this feeling “Oh, I don't know.” was stinging, this agony stultifying her, she “ Well, I do; he has plenty of external

[ocr errors]




polish, but if he were as innately gentlemanly warmly he had seemed to love, and how well and refined as he appears he would not so pal- , he had deceived her. pably pick up and drop people just to suit his Before others, though, she would neither own convenience."

repine nor repent : there “ would have been Theo winced, but said nothing.

weakness in doing either,” she told herself ; “And (it was absurd in a man of his age- besides, repining and repentance on her part for a child like yourself, of course), but I did might have paved the way to others blaming think he admired you, Theo."

him—her love, her demi-god, her vitalised Oh, mamma!”

Vandyck. There had been miserable misap“I did really ; and I'm not like some prehension of his meaning on her part, or foul mothers: I don't fancy that there is something trickery on his ; she could not bear that com. directly a man looks at my daughter.”

ment should be made on either. So she sufNo, mamma.

fered in silence and would not permit her appe“But I suppose I was mistaken, otherwise tite to flag ; in which last there was, I think, he wouldn't have gone off in that manner ; and the truest heroism, it being an awful thing to I'm glad, as I was mistaken, that I didn't say eat when one is ill in mind or body, ard an anything to you about it while he remained.” equally awful thing for all such as dwell in the “ So am I, very glad.”

tents with one to witness the daily increasing “And I do think that it was very impolite ! disinclination to do so. of him to go away without saying good-bye to So she ate and drank and made merry in 2«: why, child, how you're trembling !” the old way, and was to all outward seeming

Yes, ma. I have just got a woeful prick; the same Theo she had been before this stranger the needle has alipped under my nail. Ah- came, and saw, and loved, and left her. But ah !” (impatiently), “ I can't work any more ; her father's frequent assertion, that she I'll go and

get papa to go down on the marsh like a young bear, in that all her troubles with me."

were before her,” grated harshly on her ears So she went out and secured her father's She knew that a something was gone company in that her first visit after Harold from her mind which could never come back Ffrench's departure to the spot on which he to it; a blot made on the surface of her life had made love manifest to her. For about which no after happiness could eradicate. Miss Theo there was no maudlin sentiment- She did not set herself to the task of solving ality ; she was resolved upon abstaining from the problem of his enforced semi-declaration the luxury of making these haunts sacred and and sudden exit from the scene. There was a private.

something which had prevented that consumBut still it was hard to walk there and be mation which he had taught her to desire, but all a daughter, nothing more, so soon, so very what that something was, God knew-she did soon! She did it, however, with how much not question. The result would be just the pain and difficulty may not be known, since same; the cause was of little worth in comshe never told. She even spoke brightly of parison. That there had been something inthat approaching visit to London, which now surmountable she did not doubt ; for she did she would rather have died than have been not degrade her love and insult her own heart compelled to pay.

by deeming that it had been sought, gained, Through all the intervening days she kept and rejected as a summer day's pastime by a up with that proud resolve which this kind of motiveless trifler. trial is almost sure to develop in a proud It was a sharp, deep cut that she had rewoman's breast. Many a chance allusion ceived; but she resolutely covered it up and nearly broke her down, and many a kindly kept the air of observation from it, and would word all but overpowered her.

But she was not suffer it to fester. Sharp and deep as it ;' strong and young and generous, and would was, it was a healthy wound, and she knew neither be broken down nor overpowered before that it would heal perfectly in time, and leave those who would most sorely have grieved to no pain even though a scar remained. see her so.

While the wound was young, and before the } Harold Ffrench had been very tender to efficacy of this mode of treatment could be her-tender in a way that no very young man said to be an ascertained thing, the day of decould be; and the remembrance of this tender- parture arrived, and Theo Leigh went up to ness would come upon her with a rush some- London with her father without so much as a times, but never before others. It was only hope now of even holding intercourse with his when the girl was alone that she bent before cousiu, for the charming Mrs. Galtou had made the memory of it, and blushed and turned pale no sign. in quick succession at the thought of how

(To be continueu.)


« AnteriorContinuar »