Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

As they sat

sat down Lady pression : on the contrary, in Betty contrived without notice its intimate moments it perto wipe her eyes with her hand. mitted itself much innocent The next moment she was plain-speaking, and the respectchatting to Hugh Sinclair in able Arthur Fairbrother had very tolerably archaic English. been shocked aforetime. On The ringlets she wore became this occasion, the frankness of her small and dainty-featured an earlier period assisting, he face, and she could afford to was most unhappy, and quite wear a dress which trusted to unable to respond. He should natural qualities. So could have reflected that the plainBertha Mostyn, her friend, speaking was a token of inwhose blond ringlets fell prettily timacy to him, since it would over a high complexion. The not have been used before a men were sumptuous in lace stranger not of their society ; and velvet; but their short hair but he did not so reflect, and gave them—and more especially was the victim of an increasFairbrother - something of an ing embarrassment, which the appearance of Roundheads who others, in the jollity of the prohad rifled their enemies' ward- ceedings, did not notice. For robes. But Lord Mereworth even Lady Betty had been wore his strange dress easily, only once distressed, when her as did Hugh Sinclair, a dark brother's little speech reminded youth with rather a Roman her vividly of other times,—or face. Arthur Fairbrother, it perhaps she forced her gaiety was to be confessed, looked to hide her feelings, and was uncomfortable, and palpably too busy in doing so to redressed up, and his smile was member poor Fairbrother's. a trifle rigid.

It was worse when she and Truth to tell, his dinner had Bertha Mostyn, her friend, were not been happy. The habit of gone from the dining-room, and 1660 suited him only in that it the three young men were left showed his sturdy calves, and alone. I should have stated they were hidden by the table. before that these five were the The language bothered him. whole assembly, the two other He had tried conscientiously people invited having made to get it up, but could never good excuses, or having felt think of the phrase he wanted, unequal to the masquerade. whereas the others, who merely Mereworth and Hugh Sinclair guessed at it, were never at a settled down to the telling of loss. Its strange terms gave stories, and the

stories were them many opportunities for very frank and free, a pleasure the chaff they loved, which being found in re-dressing old they pushed to a point of rather ones in archaic English — the forcible frankness. Mereworth archaism, of course, being much and his friends were of a set exaggerated, and recruited from which was quite free from any many periods. Fairbrother was vulgarity there may be in quite disgusted. He felt that prudery or mincingness of ex the anticipated romance had

turned out very commonly, not breadth of the big hall, and its remembering that such stories long windows looked on to the were by no means an unknown fields and the sea.

The serelement of the conversation of vants’ quarters also, at the back 1660 England, and had been of the house, were distant by its told with remarkable skill by length, and they were celebratits king. He sat rather sul- ing their own especial feast. lenly, and his contribution to So that Fairbrother in the dinrealism was mainly the drink- ing-room, gloomily drinking at ing of a large quantity of claret the table, felt very much alone and port in addition to that he and deserted, and every bumper had drunk at dinner. And of claret intensified his disconwine, I regret to say, had never tent, and when he turned to an amiable effect on Arthur port the effect was the same. Fairbrother, but inclined him The air of content you have to be quarrelsome. Mereworth, seen him wear in London was who for his share had been rather due to physical well attentive to this part of the being and social success than play, forgot to conciliate him, or to a sunny temperament; and took his sympathy for granted. now that he had drunk not

So another hour passed, while wisely and believed himself to the red died out of the sky be despised and neglected, his and the night grew black and mood was extremely irritable. cloudy. Then they went for a Being, however, with such faults dish of tea to the drawing- as he may have had, a genuine

A little later they Yorkshireman, his vague desire decided to play cards; but was to fight somebody rather Fairbrother, his sulkiness still than to sit sulking. He rose on him, was disinclined. He after a while, pushed his chair watched them a while, and then violently back, and began to said he would go back to the pace the room angrily. He dining-room for another cup of stopped opposite the portrait of claret.

Sir Eustace Flair and frowned “ Odd's

my
life, the

very

at it. This was a nice sort of thing!" cried Mereworth. person (he reflected) for a family “ And we'll join you anon, to commemorate a drunken, sweet chuffikins. Or come back gambling blackguard. He had drunk, and we'll all love you.” read the story in Grammont Lady Betty waved her hand, since his conversation with Mrs and brightly shook her ringlets. Ogilvie, being anxious to know So Fairbrother went back to what was to be known of the the dining-room, feeling dimly Flairs, and had read besides the and quite wrongly that they story of Isabel Flair, Sir Euswere laughing at him.

tace's sister, who made the forThe dining-room at Mere- mal garden round the corner; worth was separated from the and he asked himself rather drawing - room, which looked savagely if all the Flairs ? from the front of the house on He walked away to the long winto the wood, by the length and dow, and opening it drank in

room,

with a snort the air of a chillying guests, arrived late and unMay evening

expected.

But no

- he knew A man came out of the dark- they were not coming. He ness suddenly and stood before walked towards the door, but him, and he stepped back a the stranger took a step quickly pace into the room.

The man

from the picture and put himstepped in past him and stood self in front of it. in the light, and then Fair “You would leave your host brother stepped back again in somewhat suddenly. But I amazement, for this man was have answered your question, neither Mereworth nor Sinclair, and you should answer mine. and yet he wore the habit they 'Tis needless, notwithstanding : wore that night. He was tall you are Master Fairbrother, are and dark and handsome, and you not ?" he wore black velvet and black “How the devil did you know silk stockings, and had a sword my name?” by his side. He smiled on Fair “Good Master Fairbrother, brother, and saluted him with a you are welcome to my poor sweep of a black plumed hat, house, but you are not the most which he then put again on his courteous guest it has received." head.

“Stand out of my way,” said “Who," said Fairbrother- Fairbrother angrily, and taking “ who on earth are you?” hold of the stranger's arm he

“Nay, look on me," said the gave it a savage pull, which did other; “you should know your not however move him from host.'

his position. But it caused a “My host is Lord Mere- change in the man's demeanworth.”

our : his smile vanished, and a “By your favour, kind sir. flash of passion came into his This is indeed Mereworth House, face. “Ūncivil churl!" he said, yet no lord am I, as I have a and struck Fairbrother with his soul they tell me will be damned. open hand on the cheek. FairAnd yet I am your host.” He brother aimed a blow at his walked to the portrait of Sir face, which he warded easily, Eustace Flair, and stood under and the next moment he had

"I am plain Sir Eustace drawn his sword, and pointed Flair, at your service."

it at Fairbrother's breast. Fairbrother looked. There “If we're to fight, you and was indeed a very strong resem- I,” he said, passionately, “it blance, and to Fairbrother's eye shall be seriously. Draw your the portrait might well have sword. Stay, it's not a gimbeen that of the intruder. crack thing, is it? They gave Fairbrother put his hand to his it you here? Right, I see; I forehead, and for a moment know it. Draw, damn you ! thought that the event might Can you fence? be a delusion of wine, or that can ; draw, if you're not a he had fallen asleep and was coward!” dreaming. Then he thought it “Yes, I can fence; but I'm might be one of the disappoint- not going to fight like a madVOL. CLXV.-NO. MII.

2 z

it.

I know you

man. Get out of my way, or attacked fiercely ; but the stranI'll knock you down."

ger, recovering his composure But the stranger kept the and the smile coming back to point of his sword at Fair- his face, contented himself with brother's breast, and it could defence, and made no actual not be passed. Fairbrother passes. They had fought for a dropped his hands, and in a few seconds only when a girl's moment the stranger had struck voice called “Arthur!” in the him with the flat of his sword, hall, and a moment later, “Why, and recovered his position before what's happening ? Fairthe other could rush in. And brother slipped on the polished then Fairbrother, with fighting edge of the floor, and knocked blood in his veins and claret in his head violently against the his head, drew his sword and wall in falling, and between the put himself on guard, and the blow and wine and confusion lost blades crossed. And in this consciousness and lay still. strange way there happened a the moment the door opened, thing which may well have hap- and Lady Betty ran in. She pened there before, but could stopped suddenly and covered not have happened—the dress her face with her hands, giving and the act considered—for two a little shriek. But it was not hundred and thirty odd years in until two or three minutes afterthe dining-room at Mereworth. wards that she ran into the But my romance is trivial, drawing - room, crying

crying that and I have to record that the Arthur had hurt himself and fight was bloodless. Fairbrother was lying unconscious.

(To be continued.)

BIRDS.

SURE, maybe ye've heard the storm-thrush

Whistlin' bould in March, Before there a primrose peepin' out,

Or a wee red cone on the larch :
Whistlin' the sun to come out o' the cloud,

An' the wind to come over the sea,
But for all he can whistle so clear an' loud,

He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've seen the song-thrush

After an April rain,
Slip from in-undher the drippin' leaves,

Wishful to sing again;
Och, low wid love when he's near the nest,

An' loud from the top o' the tree,-
But for all he can flutter the heart in your breast,

He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've heard the cushadoo

Callin' his mate in May, When one sweet thought is the whole of his life,

An' he tells it the one sweet way. But my heart is sore at the cushadoo

Filled wid his own soft glee, Over an' over his “me an' you!”.

He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've heard the red-breast

Singin' his lone on a thorn, Mindin' himself o' the dear days lost,

Brave wid his heart forlorn : The time is in dark November,

An' no spring hopes has he: “Remember," he sings, “remember!”—

Ay, thon's the wee bird for me.

MOIRA O'NEILL

« AnteriorContinuar »