A Heart-Song of To-day
Annie Gregg Savigny

Part 1 out of 7

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"By Jove! I have missed her; you are a very Circe, Mrs. Tompkins."

The speaker, one of the handsomest men I have ever seen, started to
his feet as a beautiful Italian mantel clock rang in silver chimes the
hour of midnight.

"Sit down again my dear Captain, I have not told you all, and am a
wilful woman and must have my way. I know whom you have missed," she
said truly, for Sir Tilton Everly has informed her, out-come her woman
wit to prevent the meeting. "Is she anything to you?"

"No, and yes, as all women beautiful or fascinating are, I love you

"You have large capacities, Captain Trevalyon, but I must make you
love one woman and only one, or I cannot sleep content," and the black
amorous eyes rest on his face.

"Ye gods! a confession," thought Trevalyon. "Awkward for me as I want
Haughton to have the innings; she is good fun and doesn't bore one,
but I've missed Vaura again, fool I was to come."

"You don't seem curious" continued Mrs. Tompkins, rolling a small
table on which was the _debris_ of a _petit_ champagne supper, from
between them.

"Curious! a prerogative of your sex, fair madame, though any of your
secrets would be _chic_ enough to tempt a man to encroach," he
answered gaily, drawing a chair near his own.

"Especially when 'tis of a woman who lives for him alone," and the
handsome wealthy widow sank into the chair opposite him.

"Yes, for an hour, for a day, and 'tis pleasant so you see I know you
gay butterflys," he said, lazily placing a foot-stool under the pretty
feet of his companion.

"Not so," she said slowly, and with a new tenderness in her tones.
"Not so; but first I brought you here to tell you your friend Colonel
Haughton made me an offer of marriage this moaning. What say you;
would you regret my fetters and wish me free? It shall be as you say."

Only that Mrs. Tompkins' attention was wholly given to her companion,
she would have noticed the heavy curtains opposite her and separating
her boudoir from a small morning-room pushed aside, and a pair of
wrathful blazing eyes watching her every movement; had either been
near enough, they would have heard a muttered oath at her last words.

"As I wish! 'tis well I am his friend, _chere_ madame, for there are
not many men would bid you to the altar with another, but I say take
him, there is not a better fellow in the kingdom, and here is my
benediction," and he laughingly lifted her hand to his lips.

"And is that all you care for me? Heavens! what different stuff we are
made of, you can bid me to another, while I could _kill_. Nay, don't
start. Yes, could kill a woman you might love. And the speaker looked
her words, while there was almost a sob in her voice as her bosom
heaved convulsively.

"My dear Mrs. Tompkins, you honor me too much; believe me, 'tis but a
passing fancy on your part."

"Passing fancy, never! Listen; you say you love no woman in especial,
wed me; love begets love; I am the wooer I know, but you are as
handsome as a god, and I have been always one to speak as I feel; yea,
and get what I want most days," she added, leaning forward and smiling
into his mesmeric eyes. "Come to me," and her heart was in her words.
"Come, you are poor in wealth, men say I have millions in gold, try
and love me and--"

"And--and what next--Kate--by gad, a pretty speech, allow me to
congratulate you. How do, Trevalyon; at your old game of slaughtering
hearts?" The speaker had come from behind the curtains and was the
owner of the wrathful eyes; a heavily built man of medium weight, a
bold man with a handsome black beard, though the top of his head was
bald. "You were always a good shot, Trevalyon, when the target was a
heart," he repeated savagely.

"'Twas you, who bagged the delicate game, if I remember you aright,
Delrose," said Trevalyon, with the utmost _sang-froid_ as he leaned
backwards and with his right hand fondled his long tawny moustache.

"George Delrose, what makes you here? You are Lucifer himself, I
believe," said Mrs. Tompkins wrathfully, pushing his hand from her
shoulder and starting to her feet.

"I gave strict orders to Peter to admit no one to my presence. I shall
discharge Him, and at once."

"Take it easy, Kate, _I_ have _promoted_ him to _my_ service."

"From gold lo brass is no promotion; he knows not the value of

"Jove! how like they are, the same bold handsome style, reckless to
the last degree," thought Trevalyon.

"They are both a passport to society! all a man wants to-day! so, my
pretty Kate don't look so severe, I have one, you have the other,"
said Delrose audaciously, and attempting to take her hand.

"No, I won't take your hand, go away this moment," and a decided foot
went down, "leave Captain Trevalyon and myself to conclude our

"You forget the proprieties, Kate, and though I like not the fruit,
I'll play gooseberry," and seating himself he coolly poured out a
glass of champagne.

"Shall I make my adieux, Mrs. Tompkins; it grows late?" said
Trevalyon, about to rise from his chair.

"No, stay awhile," said his hostess softly, for she thought Delrose
might go and she might so act on the feelings of Trevalyon by the
magnets love and gold as to win. In the meantime he thought as he
stroked his moustachs lazily, "a dashingly handsome woman, pity she
has let that dare-devil Delrose get some hold over her."

Major Delrose drank like a thirsty man, then folding his arms glared
defiantly at Kate who returned his gaze while trembling with wrath,
her eyes flashing.

"George Delrose, you are a coward to force yourself into a woman's
presence. Go this moment! I command you, or I shall summon the
household. Are you going?"

"No, by the Horse Guards! _I am not_!" and the flush of anger deepened
on his cheek. "I tell you, Kate, I am not a man to be made a football
of; don't, if you have a remnant of pity in your heart, drive me mad
by talk of marriage with another."

"And why not, pray?" inquired Mrs. Tompkins, recklessly, the next
instant regretting her foolhardiness, and before the eyes of the men,
one of whom she had a passion for; the other who had a passion for
herself, that she had outlived; and now with quick resolve and latent
meaning, knowing the intruder's love for coins, continued: "Even did
the Sultan of Turkey fancy me to adorn his harem, when I pined for
freedom, he would not despise the American eagle done in gold as an
exchange for my liberty."

"Cold, glittering metal _versus_ warm, loving heart of woman, and such
an one as you, never!" he answered, following her cue and looking her
in the eyes.

"I care not, he cannot afford to offend me," thought Mrs. Tompkins,
and so only showing a velvet paw, making a step towards him, her rich
crimson robes of velvet trailing after her, now offered her hand.
"Here is my hand, George, bid me good-night, and like a good fellow go
at once, and I forgive you."

"Dismiss Trevalyon first, I am an older friend than he," he answered

"I shall not; this is my boudoir, and, thank fate, I am my own

"Then, by the stars, I stir not one inch!"

Both reckless, both determined, how would it end? and so Trevaylon
thought, as he said, coolly:

"What is the use of acting like this, Delrose? You certainly made your
_entree_ later than I, if you are making a point of that; but a
soldier is usually more yielding to woman's wish."

"Not often, Trevalyon, when her wish is the will of a rival," he
answered hotly.

"The fancy of a woman _a present_," thought Trevalyon. "But I must end
this, for he won't. I am in no mood for trifling, I have again missed
seeing Vaura. Mrs. Tompkins is charming in a _tete-a-tete_, but with
the _entree_ of a soldier on the war-path," and stepping towards his
hostess he said gallantly: "So fair a foe, dear Mrs. Tompkins,
surrounded by soldiers, is unfair; I beat a retreat. May I carry a
comforting message to the gentleman who called upon you this morning?"
and the blue mesmeric eyes rested on her face as he bent his handsome
Saxon head for her reply.

Her dark eyes met his in a pleading way, but she read no weakness
there, and thought as she gave him her hand:

"A man with an unsatisfied longing for another woman is difficult to
subdue, but if George had not intruded himself, I should not have let
him go till I had brought him to my feet, but I shall be revenged on
him, and win my love yet," and her hand lingered in his, while she

"You may, he is your friend; you will be much with us."

"Thank you, for the two-fold kindness. Now gladly shall I be your
Mercury. Good-night," and lifting her hand to his lips, he was gone.

"Then you really mean to wed Colonel Haughton?" enquired Delrose in
unsteady tone.

"Come and sit beside me, Kate; you sat beside that other man. Gad! I
feel like shooting the follow."

"Mere bravado; gentlemen only meet their equals."

"Don't take that tone with me Kate, or by heaven he shall suffer."

"Good-night Major Delrose," she said mockingly. "I leave your
presence, _sans ceremonie_ as you entered mine."

And with the gas-light lighting up red-robes, jewels, coal-black
tresses and a smile all cruel, she was about to leave him.

"Stay, Kate, I command you. How will it be when I set the London world
on their ear, over your parentage, daughter of a nobody, your gold
from the Cosmopolitan Laundry."

Kate winced.

"It would be then a Haughton's turn to leave _sans ceremonie_; make up
friends, Kate," and his face softened, and going over he led her,
though unwillingly, to a seat beside his own.

"What a bore a persistent lover with a long memory is," thought Kate.
"But I cannot afford to quarrel with him."

"You are not serious, Kate. You will never sever the tie that binds

And bold man, though he was, his voice trembled as leaning forward he
strove to read the inmost thoughts of the woman who has played with
his affections at will.

"You said you loved me once, Kate, but I fear your heart had no part
in the matter, my devotion amused you, my bold wooing was a novelty,
the soldier in me was a change after the King of Laundry?"

"How dare you name the source of my wealth and to me!" she said

"Because, my dear, I know your weak point; and even though I anger
you, anything to turn your thoughts to myself; you must admit, Kate,
that it is hard lines for me; marry me, dear, and I am your slave, my
love for you will never change; it is as fierce and passionate as

And leaning forward his hands on her knees, he strove in vain to
imprison hers.

"While mine has changed," she said coldly; "love would indeed be a
tyrant, could we not roam at will."

And a vision of mesmeric eyes with a smile, sweet as a woman's came to
her. At her words Delrose buried his face in her hands and groaned
heavily, as though his heart would break. Then looking up into her
face, he said in thick tones.

"Have you no pity for me?"

"None, you have crossed my path, you have clouded my sky."

Had she pity for him, fool that he was to ask. Has the owner of
the favourite at Goodwood pity for the jockey who swoons in a
death-sickness, causing the next to come in a head's length? Has the
eagle pity for the young mother's wail for her babe as he carried it
aloft to feed the young? No, she told herself she had spoiled him,
allowing him the _entree_ to her presence for the past seven or eight
years at will. She cared for him too for his bold, fierce, passionate
nature, that is--in a way, if only he would not insist on monopoly,
but she would be willing to barter one clasp of the hand, one look
from the eyes of gay, genial, handsome, fascinating Captain Trevalyon
for the total banishment of her bold wooer.

"I have crossed your path, clouded your sky, and is this all the
comfort you give me for years of devotion?" he said slowly, and in a
broken voice. "Crossed your path because my love lives, while yours
for me is dead; crossed your path, clouded your sky, because I am
constant and wish to have you for my wife; wish to keep you in my
arms. Lincoln Tompkins never knew; our world never knew; crossed your
path? By the stars, Kate, I will not give you up!" And there is a
sudden fierceness in his tones, while his breath comes hard and fast.
"Crossed your path? 'tis Trevalyon who has again crossed mine. Gad!
how I hate him." And he set his teeth. "To think, too, that with your
high spirit, you should plead to him for his love."

"George Delrose, dare to repeat one word of a conversation you played
the sneak to listen to, and you shall come to grief."

And she started to her feet, receding several paces from him in rage
and mortification.

"Kate, dear, forgive me," and he is beside her; and strong man that he
is, he holds her by force in his arms until she is still.

"It is my love for you that maddens me. My queen, my beauty, come back
to me. Give your thoughts to me--you must, you shall."

"What shall I do with him?" she thought. "I love the other man, but if
I cannot win him, I shall gratify my ambition by marrying Haughton
Hall, and in petting my idol gratify myself; and so to pet my old love
until it's all over."

And now puss begins to purr.

"There, George dear, I give in; you leave no room for other fetters
than your arms. Let me go."

"Yes, my beauty, in a minute. You have been so cold to me of late, I
am famished. You will only marry me, Kate, only me. Say yes, dear;
Haughton would never suit you. But I cannot speak calmly of him or of
any other man in connection with yourself."

And he grew again fearfully excited.

"As for that fellow, Trevalyon, the club gossips have it that for
years he has had a hidden wife, and, depend upon it, it's true, these
curled darlings generally do that sort of trick."

"Stop; I may turn this to my future advantage," thought Kate, quickly;
"let me go, George, and you may sit beside me. There, that is better.
I wonder if this story is true; I remember you told it me at New York
as false; but I dare say at that time, not being jealous of him, you
were, after the manner of men, letting him down easily. Yes, we shall
take it for granted it is true. He is handsome enough to have got into
some matrimonial scrape ere now."

"I am regaining my old influence over her," thought simple Simon.

"Listen, George, a minute longer; you have seen this Miss Vernon,
Vaura Vernon, niece to Colonel Haughton. Describe her."

"Hang it, Kate! Leave the Haughton connection alone," he said,
jealously. "Talk about ourselves."

"I am just starving for a kind word."

"Which you won't get till I please. What makes you here? Just think of
that, and then say would any other woman be as kind. Now run over the
Vernon charms, if any."

"When she will, she will," he said sulkily. "I have only seen her in
the 'row' and that once, she was ahead of me so I did not see her
face, but she sat her horse well and her figure is perfect. I
overheard Wingfield at the 'Russell' club rooms, telling Chaucer of
the Guards (who is wild to meet her) that there is nothing to compare
with her in the kingdom, that she is a perfect goddess. Now are you

"Yes, yes; let me think a minute."

"Just the woman to attract; I must get her out of my path and separate
her from my haughty handsome idol, my king, my love," she thought
slowly, her black eyes wearing an intent look, her large lips tightly
compressed. Her companion did not break upon her reverie, he sat
quiet, studying her profile as he had often done before; there was a
certain witchery in the hour, the lateness, the stillness, the roseate
lights above them, then what we have all felt, the sweet bliss of
sitting in enforced quiet beside a loved one; our brain is quiet, our
hands idle; we dread to break the spell, we then as at no other time
literally live in the present.

Delrose scarcely moved a muscle; from shoulder to elbow the red velvet
of her gown mingled with his black coat sleeve. For some time she had
seemed to be drifting away from him, and their present _tete-a-tete_,
though compulsory on her part, was to him paradise. During the season
when the London world knew no monarch, save the king of revels. She
had laughed at his prayers for a quiet half hour, tossing him instead,
as she did to her parrot, now a few careless words, now a sugar plum.
At present the season is waning, and a great dread has taken
possession of him, lest she should slip away from him altogether, for
Dame Rumour has given the widow of the American millionaire in
marriage to more than one. The demon of unrest hath gat hold on him
and every night ere going to one or other of the many distractions
open to him, he paces the square opposite her windows to see who is
admitted. More than once Col. Haughton and the man he most fears,
Trevalyon, have alighted from the handsome dog-cart of the latter;
to-night as we know, he, with the madness of jealousy upon him, on
seeing his hated rival enter at eleven p.m., bribes a servant to admit
him one hour later. Eve had not confided in him that Trevalyon had
come only on a written invitation from herself couched in such terms
as he could not refuse. And the woman beside him thought silently,
seemingly oblivious of his presence. "I fear I have no chance with
him; he is pre-occupied with her; a man always is until he tires of
one. I must marry the Colonel. Household gods are permitted in
Christendom; he is my god and shall be then as now my idol."

And with a little laugh and a sigh she turned her face quickly,
brushing his beard (he was so near), and had laid his hand on hers as
she sighed.

"My queen," he whispered eagerly, "of whom have you been thinking all
this time? Say of me, and not of him."

"You men all go in for monopoly, George dear, but who is the obnoxious
'he' this time?"

"Trevalyon, of course; did I not hear you--"

"Stop! or we shall quarrel; if you must know, my thoughts were of you;
and I thought you were not such a bad fellow after all as Trevalyon;
it would be a terrible thing, George dear, did he inveigle Miss
Vernon, for whom he seems inclined, into a marriage with him."

"What the deuce need you care? She is nothing to you. Ah! I begin to
see," he continued thoughtfully; "you would not regret had he a taste
of the Tantalus punishment."

"I have some conscience left," she said merrily, "which is paying you
an indirect compliment, and if you wish to please me you will revive
this old scandal, so as to prevent this naughty fellow posing as
bigamist; and now promise me and tell me good-night."

"And you forgive me everything and restore me to favour, my queen,
while I swear he shall never marry Miss Vernon nor any other woman he

"Yes, you may come to me for your reward, if you effectually prevent
Miss Vernon posing as his wife. I shall be sweeter than honey in the
honey-comb to you then. But till then, pleasant dreams."

"Before I leave, you must tell me when I may see you alone, for this
banishment is killing me."

"Killing you! indeed; all gammon; never saw a man look as though he
enjoyed his beef and beer better; no, go do my bidding, and in your
effort to keep out Mormonism you will punish your foe and I shall
reward you."

"But when, Kate, when; you don't tell me; may I come to-morrow?"
persisted her lover, eagerly.

"No, I am steeped to the lips in engagements."

"But I _must_, Kate; a soldier is accustomed to daily pay."

"Don't be persistent, George, or you shall be off duty forever."

"You know you have your foot on my neck, dear, and you take

"Most men would not object to its shape or weight," she said saucily
drawing her robe, exposing a very pretty foot encased in cream hose,
and a black satin boot fitting as perfectly as any Madame Vestris ever

"I am conquered, my queen," he said softly; "only let me come, and in
your own time."

"Well put, and now be off; I'll write you, as the letter writer says,
at my earliest convenience."

"Good-night; may it come soon."

"Remember your mission."

"I shall revive it with a vengeance."

And bending down something very like a lovers' parting took place.
Passing into the hall he stepped noiselessly out into the night; the
closing of the door roused the sleeping footman, who, as he locked the
door and saw his mistress pass from her boudoir to her sleeping
apartments, thought sleepily as he put out the lights--

"Peter won't get the sack for letten' him in after all; my lady is
sweet on him, I'm thinking, and I'm not in for Pete's place."



Come now and unroll with me one corner of the still, the silent past,
and I shall read you a few pictures in the old time life at Haughton
Hall, County Surrey, England.

This one, a twelvth night scene of 1854, will interest us: Scene is
one of the drawing-rooms at the fine old stately mansion of grey
stone, Elizabethan in its grandeur of tower and pinnacle, its spots of
decay lovingly draped by the hand of Dame Nature, ivy constant and
clinging as though its robes of green loved the old grey stone. The
south wing, built by a Haughton two hundred years ago (for his Spanish
bride noble as beautiful, an Espartero by birth) alone is lighted. We
shall glance through this window. Ah! a priest of the Anglican Church;
before him stands a girl beautiful as an angel; beside her a handsome
man, dark and bronzed; on the third finger of her left hand he slips
the ring of gold which binds them as closely as its unbroken circle. A
sweet woman lying on a lounge with the seal of death on her brow
before whom they kneel and receive her blessing. The actors are Ethel
Haughton, Captain Vernon, --th Light Cavalry, and the poor invalid who
only lived to give her daughter in marriage. On the 27th March, same
year, the British Lion and Russian Bear met in combat; our troops went
out and among them Captain Vernon, when, sad to relate, his name was
one of the first of our brave soldiers on the death-roll at
Petropaulovski; we met with a repulse and he fell. His sweet young
bride did not long survive him, dying of a bitter loneliness called
heartache, leaving a lovely infant, the child Vaura.


No. 2.

Fourteen years later, bringing us by the hand of time into 1868. Same
scene--Haughton Hall, morning--and ah! What a dream of beauty, a
child, woman now. In the sweet, somewhat sad pleading of her
expression, one catches a glimpse of the tender, loving woman of later
years, and so her companion, to whose arm she clings, sees her,
judging from the half wondering, wholly loving sympathy in his eyes.
Her movements are rapid, graceful and lithe as a young gazelle; she
has evidently expected a loved guest who has disappointed her. For now
her eyes are suffused with tears; she looses his arm and clasps her
hands appealingly as she points to an open letter on a table. A vacant
chair, slippers, and a _petit_ dinner untasted. He consults his watch,
strokes caressingly the bright brown hair reaching to her knees, and
fluffy as the coat of a water spaniel. Now taking her hand in adieu,
bends his noble head, and with a smile sweet as a woman's, would kiss
her, but she is no child this morning and he draws back with a look
half wonder in his eyes. The sweet girl too, after turning her flower
face upwards, droops the large luminous brown eyes and with a pretty
blush takes instead his right hand between her own and presses her
rose-mouth to it in a farewell greeting.

The actors are Vaura Vernon (the infant of last scene) who has been
expecting her loved uncle, Colonel Haughton, who is at Baden-Baden
held in the fascinations of its gaming tables. The handsome man to
whose arm she clung is Lieut. Trevalyon of the --th Middlesex Lancers;
but lately returned from the East, where, at Delhi, &c., his many
daring acts of bravery are still in the public mouth. By invitation he
is at Haughton, but his friend cannot tear himself from Germany--it is
his ruin; and he yields to the importunities of his bewitching little
friend to go and bring him home from this evil.


No. 3.

Trevalyon gone; Vaura, weeping bitterly, is discovered by a handsome
youth who, bounding in at the open window, throwing himself at her
feet with many caresses, bids her be consoled, points to the
dilapidated hangings, seems to contrast her surroundings with his own
wealth, displaying his diamond jewels, his watch, his well-filled
purse. She seems to be half frightened at his words; when gazing up at
a portrait of her uncle, showing him a little worn and sad, a sudden
resolve seems to seize her; she evidently consents to his wish, for
his face glows and he embraces her, while drying her tears. She now
leaves the room, returns in out-door costume; he, laughing and
excited, braids her lovely hair; her sweet face is a trifle pale; a
jewelled comb holds together the heavy braids. She now pets two or
three dogs, feeds her birds from her hand, climbs on to a table,
kisses the portrait of her uncle, the tears starting afresh, picks a
few blossoms from her favourite flowers, and they make their exit.


No. 4.

_A few days later--Same scene_.

Enter a lady, purely the Gaul in face and gesture, excited though
decided in manner; with her two Frenchmen, the one a priest, the other
a man of law. Following, and looking grief-stricken to the last
degree, comes the youth of last scene. Vaura follows pale and sad, her
uncle's arm around her; priest takes a ring from Vaura's finger; with
a sharp instrument cuts it in twain. Lawyer takes a paper, reads,
holds it in view of all, then tears into smallest fragments. Youth
grows fearfully excited, tries to snatch it. Lady says a few words to
him, her teeth set; he yields in despair. They all then kiss the Book,
evidently making oath.

The past is again veiled, and we love the actors too well to endeavour
to solve what they have apparently sworn shall not be revealed. The
following eight years of Vaura's life have been spent chiefly at
Paris, at the Seminaire of Madame Rocheforte, bringing us to 1877, the
intangible present, a mere cobweb dividing as it does our past, as it
silently recedes from our winged future.



We now return to Captain Trevalyon, as he leaves the residence of Mrs.
Tompkins, No. ---- Eaton Square. He quickly seats himself in his
dogcart, still standing at the door. When grasping the reins from his
servant drives rapidly to Park Lane and the town house of his friend,
the Lady Esmondet, who loves him well, as all women do who have his
friendship; and with whom, now that he has left the army, he spends
(during the season) much of his time. But now his thoroughbreds, King
and Prance, have sped so quickly through Belgravia that their
destination is reached.

"Just as I feared, Fate is against me," he thought, glancing at the
house; "nothing has delayed them, they are off, I have again missed

Aloud he says to his servant: "Sims, go to the door and enquire if
Lady Esmondet has really gone; if so, has she left any message for

"Yes, sir."

Returning, he hands a letter to his master, saying:

"Her ladyship left this with the housekeeper for you, sir, and Grimes
says, sir, they waited 'til the last minute for you, sir."

Not delaying to peruse the written words of his friend, he drove with
all speed to the Great Northern Station, only to learn that the train
had left on time at midnight, when, turning his horses' heads once
more, and for his hotel, he has soon reached the "Langham." On gaining
his own apartments his great dog Mars gives a whine of satisfaction at
the return of his master, who, throwing himself wearily into a
favourite chair, while the smoke from his cigar curls upwards, takes
from his pocket the delicate epistle with the perfume of violets upon
it, and which reads as follows:

"Lionel, _mon cher ami_, I feel it in my heart to scold you. How is
it you are not with us? The Claxtons will hear of no further delay.
So while they get into travelling gear, must have a one-sided
leave-taking with you, as we must needs leave Park Lane without a
hand-clasp. Vaura, always lovely, is more bewitching than ever
tonight, as she talked earnestly to Travers Guy Cyril, you will
remember him. She looked not unlike Guido's Beatrice; (I don't mean
the daubs one sees, but Guido's own), the same soul-full eyes,
Grecian nose, and lovely full curved lips. Guy, always melancholy,
Vaura, always sympathetic, the reflection of his sad eyes lent to
hers a deep tenderness; that he loves her hopelessly, poor fellow,
is only too evident, he bid us adieu for a New York trip, thence, he
seemed to think, no one cared. And so, lives are parted; one is
inclined to quarrel with Fate at times; she bids you to the "Towers"
and elsewhere; Vaura and self to the Scotch Lakes, afterwards to
gay Brighton. I would you were with us, _cher_ Lionel, but your
long-deferred visit to your place is an absolute necessity, so, much
as one regrets the moves of the 'miscreator circumstance,' one must
submit. And now for a note from Dame Grundy, with our gay friend, Mrs.
Eustace Wingfield, as mouthpiece. 'Posey Wyesdale openly affirms that
when she again plumes herself in colours you will play Benedict;
moreover, that 'tis for her sake you are a bachelor.' Mrs. W.
laughingly commented thereon, saying, 'If astonishment could
resuscitate a corpse, the Duke would be an unbidden guest.' Poor
darling, I shall miss his kindly face in our Scottish tour. I should
like to see you range yourself, _cher ami_, but your hands are too
full of tricks to play a losing game. Apropos to your wish to see me
again at God's altar, again to link my fate, my life, with another.
_Listen, for I know you will not betray me._ In my youth I loved, in
my prime I love the same man; my dead husband comes in between; my
love does not know he has my heart; nor did he when a girl. I, at the
command of stern parents; said him nay; he of whom I speak is the
kind, unselfish, warm-hearted, trusting Eric, Colonel Haughton. I
write this as I cannot speak of it, and so that you will understand my
resolve to remain single; also, Vaura tells me that on her arrival
from Paris on this afternoon, her uncle informed her that he has made
an offer of marriage to the wealthy Mrs. Tompkins. Vaura is full of
regrets, as from what our friends say, his choice is extremely
_outre_. For myself I shall try and be content. And now adieu to the
subject, the pain at my heart will be more keen, my smile (for a time)
forced, that is all. 'Tis well that our life teaches us to wear a
mask. Adieu, the bustle of departure in the hall bids me hasten.
Trusting you will find your tenants more satisfied (for 'tis their
comfort we must think of to-day), and I really believe under Simpson
they will not grumble. Farewell. Vaura has just appeared at the door
to bid me come. I asked her if she had any message for you, 'Tell
him,' she said laughingly,' to think of me sometimes if he has time,
and then perhaps he himself will travel by the same road his thought
has gone before, for I should dearly love to see him again,' For
myself, do not forget me, for I feel particularly lonely to-night;
Eric lost, and you not here. Ah, well, the cards have been against me,
that is all; join us somewhere when you can; _au revoir_."

"Park Lane, 15th June, 1877.

"The Langham, London City."

"Jove! how sorry I am" he exclaimed thoughtfully as he finished
reading, then puffing his cigar, now vigorously then allowing it to
die out, he thought silently. "Detained on this afternoon by Simpson,
my new steward. Then my club dinner having guests I could not go to
Park lane, afterwards the crush at the Delamere's when I missed them
in the crowd, then the preremptory summons to Eaton Square when I
went, thinking it would be to Haughton's interest. Yes, the Fates are
decidedly against me, and that gay little message from Vaura Vernon. I
shall conquer destiny and meet them somewhere next autumn. And Alice
Esmondet! confessing a tender passion for Haughton. She would have
been just the woman for him. How dull of him not to see it; but for a
soldier and a society man he knows less of the women than any man of
my acquaintance. Now for a man who has, I may say, forsworn matrimony,
I take pride in my knowledge of the sex, the sweetest bit of humanity
we have. I wonder what manner of remembrance Vaura has of me, if
merely as an old-time friend of her uncle and herself. I have not seen
her, I may say, since, as a young officer, I went to the Hall as to my
home, a returned 'hero of Delhi,' in newspaper parlance. She was the
loveliest little child--woman at that time, I had ever seen. Jove! how
fast one's thoughts travel backward eight years. I remember Haughton
Hall was heavily mortgaged and my friend at Baden-Baden getting deeper
in debt; the life of a country squire palled upon him, when at his
father's death he returned at his mother's wish as heir; pity he was
obliged to leave the army. The outcome is this marriage for gold to
redeem the place from the Jews, lost for distraction's, sake. However,
a-something occurred on my yielding to dear little Vaura's wish to go
and induce him to return, and he has been a saved man ever since,
giving up the dice from the time of his hurried return in consequence
of a telegram he received before I reached him; I don't know what the
motive power was, as he did not confide and, as a matter of course, I
did not force his confidence. The Hall is still in debt but he manages
to keep the Jews quiet and to make a decent living out of a few
tenants. The lovely Vaura has her mother's portion. 'Tis an ill wind
that blows nobody good, and his becoming a slave of the ring will be
for my good as the old place will again be open and Vaura Vernon, the
woman now, will again grace it by her presence, and until she marries,
lend a new brightness, a new distraction to my life. Jove! now I come
to think of it she will surely marry next season, and I shall not have
her long; with her face, form, colouring, eyes and the sweet syren
voice that the men are raving of, some one of them will make her say
him yea; then the spice of originality about her is refreshing, also
having had so much of the companionship of Lady Esmondet, she is a
woman of common-sense and of the world, no mere conventional doll. Had
Haughton not been blind and have married my friend what a paradise the
Hall would have been to me? Until Vaura married I must always remember
that contingency. 'Tis absurd of dear Lady Esmondet wishing me to
range myself, she knows my resolve not to wed is as earnest as though
I was in the garb of a monk. I feel bothered and unsettled; how I wish
I had been at Park Lane to-night; a trip to the Highlands would have
been the very tonic I require. Sir Andrew Clarke could not prescribe
better, but it is too late now, its a horrible bore to go up to
Northumberland and the 'Towers' alone, though when one has had as much
trouble with one's tenants as I, one must victimise oneself, I
suppose. 'Tis a grand old place, picturing as it does the feudal
times, if only it were not so desolate. I wonder what Lady Esmondet or
Vaura would think of it, how lovely she would look standing in the
Tower windows with the fresh air blowing her beautiful hair and her
gown close about her; but I forget it is late, and I am dreaming, her
hair will be confined in some womanly fashion and she is not for me,
no, Mars, you and I are lonely wanderers," and the dog is patted, the
lights are out while the weary man throws himself on his couch to pass
a restless night with heavy sleep at sunrise.



At eleven o'clock the following day Mrs. Tompkins leisurely sips her
cocoa as she breaks her fast in the pretty morning room at No. ----
Eaton Square, her step-daughter, an American born and bred, is her
companion, a tiny young woman all pale tints, colourless face, sharp
features, sharp little eyes always watery, always with a red rim about
them giving the paleness of their blue a pink shade. When off guard
the mouth is resolute, the eyes wearing a stealthy cunning look; the
mask on, 'tis an old-child face with a wondering expression of
innocence about it. The grasshopper in the Park yonder might claim
kinship and Darwin there find the missing link in the wee figure
clothed in its robe of grass green, all waist and elbows. She had no
love for her step-mother whom she had been taught by hirelings to
consider her natural enemy and with whom she could only cope with
subtle craftiness.

Mrs. Tompkins' maid now enters with a note upon a salver; on reading
it her mistress simply writing the word "come" on the reverse side of
one of her cards, seals with her monograph, addressing the envelope to
"Colonel Haughton" she smiles as she thinks "I shall soon seal with my

"Take this to the servant, Masoff, and give my strict orders to Peter
to admit only Colonel Haughton or Capt. Trevalyon until after

"Yes, madam."

"And, Mason, bid Sarah be in readiness to attend Miss Tompkins, who
will drive to Bayswater in half an hour for the day. John will have
the close carriage at the door."

"Yes, madam."

Here is the heart wish of Blanche fulfilled, but she does not show it,

"Why must I go to that stupid place, step-momma? Such a mean crowd."

"Because I wish it; at all events, you pretend such affection for your
old school-teachers when with them, that to cover your aversion to
visit them it is my duty to insist on your going there when a drive
would benefit you. Should their nephew, Sir Tilton Everly, be with
them, tell him (as I want him to-morrow) he may as well return with

Blanche made a _moue_, saying poutingly, while feeling that a
_billet-doux_ was safe in her pocket:

"I was due at the Tottenham's this morning: Cis was coming shopping;"
which was a romance of the moment.

"Tell John to drive around to Gloucester Square, and you can take her
with you."

"No, I shall not. What do you want Sir Tilton for? Might be
Vanderbilt, the fuss you make over him."

"I know you dislike him; mere envy, Blanche, for his devotion to
myself, which is absurd," with a satisfied glance at the mirror
opposite. "Men being born hunters will hunt you for the golden dollar;
me, for myself. So as you have breakfasted, away; try and be civil to
Sir Tilton, and bring him back to dinner with you at eight o'clock;

As Miss Tompkins paced the corridors to her own apartments she

"I'll be even with you some day, Mrs. T.; didn't see you fool my popa
nine years for nothing, and take all his kisses and more than two
millions of money from me, when you didn't care a cent for him; 'twas
the black-bearded major, not popa's lean jaws then; now, it's Capt.
Trevalyon, who is as handsome as the Prince of Wales, and too awfully
nice for anything. Never mind, you'll be sold as bad as one of
Barnum's. I handle my million when I come of age, which will be New
Year's day, 1878; then you'll see if all the men love you, and think
me a fright just because I havn't your big black eyes and catlike

Two footmen in dark green livery, with yellow facings, having removed
the _debris_ of breakfast, Madame, alone, consults her mirror, which
reflects her rose-pink gown (the reds in all shades being her colour),
which fits her _embonpoint_ figure like a glove; slightly over the
medium height, black browed, determined, daring and impulsive; a woman
who will have her way where her appetites are concerned; easy-going
when steering her own way with her own crew down life's current, while
with a coldly cruel smile her oar crushes the life-blood from any
obstacle in her course. She touches a bell, her maid appears.

"Mason, what do you think; am I paler than usual?"

"No, ma'am, you are looking very well."

"So my mirror tells me; nevertheless, as I am to say yes to a second
husband this morning," and the large white teeth show as she smiles,
"I think a slight blush would be becoming."

"Perhaps so, ma'am, but I like your white skin, it shows off your
black hair and eyes real well, better than all the English colour; and
so you are going to marry again, ma'am; well, I thought the gentlemen
wouldn't leave you alone long, ma'am."

And the confidential maid applies with skill a slight touch of rouge
to the cheek, which only has colour when the somewhat fierce temper
causes the blood to mount.

"There, that will do; don't prate of what I have told you."

"I have kept your secrets for ten years, ma'am."

"You have, and may you keep them as many more, and here is a gold
dollar for the term;" and her mistress tossed her carelessly two fives
in the precious metal. "See that I am not disturbed, and only admit as
I have given orders."

Alone she moves towards the hangings, through the opening in which
Major Delrose had stealthily watched the night before, and through
which she passes, giving him as she does only a passing thought. 'Tis
a pretty room, this boudoir of Madame, with its gaily-painted
hangings, its windows in stained glass, letting in the sweet June
breath from the park. Too great a display of wealth, perhaps, but in
the taste of the best New York artists, who revel in the gorgeous, and
who have had full play for their talents at No. ---- Eaton Square. The
black-brow'd mistress picks up a novel (Mrs. Southworth's last); when,
throwing herself onto a lounge, her well-shaped feet encased in her
favourite black satin boots stretched out, she endeavours to get the
thread of the tale; but thought is too busy, the book falls to the
floor as her reverie grows deeper.

"No, he will not come; my idol, my king. I saw it in his eyes; he is
pre-occupied with Miss Vernon, and I hate her;" and a cruel look comes
to the mouth and eyes. "But stay, perhaps he does love me, but is
unselfish enough to let his friend win; if I was even half sure of
this I should make short work of stately Col. Houghton; but no, a man
would not love me by halves," and for an instant her thoughts flew to
Major Delrose. "Let me see now what is my plot or game; with George,
my ambition would not be gratified, for he has no estate; nor could I
ever bask in the presence of the man I adore; by marrying the Colonel
I gain both ends. Then his niece, Miss Vernon, is in my path; she is
haughty; I shall so act upon this trait by showing her my dislike to
her presence as to rid myself forever of it; let her beware! vitriol
and Mason would do their work; yes, I must keep friendly with Delrose;
her haughty spirit will aid me here; this 'hidden wife' story once
afloat, and a royal princess would as soon sign a contract with a
prophet of Utah. I fear the fierce, passionate temper of George; but
my woman's wit will be brought to play to keep him quiet; Trevalyon
will necessarily have a surer footing at Haughton than he, as in this
case I shall see; in an underhand way the Colonel has his wish, and
the pith of all my musings is that if George will not aid me in
reviving the Fanny Clarmont, hidden wife scandal, _I shall do it
without him_. One thing in my favour is, that as he swears against
matrimony, people will say the secret reason is out of--Why! Eleven
forty-five; my future spouse should soon appear; how my heart would
beat, and every pulse throb and burn, if it were my king; now, I am as
cool as the czar of Wall Street. My sleeves fit well; this make suits
me," and she pushed to the wrist her bracelets of the golden dollar.
"And my boots also; I do take as much pride in my foot as the men do
in their moustache. What am I gaining in return for myself and my
gold? A great place and name, and also revenge on my father, whom I
may meet, and who kept me from position, not allowing me to know even
his whole name--Vivian only, this and nothing more; he, a British
officer, in a mad impulse (I am like him) marries my mother, nobody's
daughter, and a ballet dancer, during a run he made to New York city
just thirty-five years ago; my sire repents in sackcloth and ashes,
dragging us with him; sells out; living by his wits anyhow and
anywhere, chiefly at gaming places abroad. At a German suburb once he
had left us, my late husband came to our cottage to enquire his road;
as he was an American, my mother nearly swallow'd him whole; I did, on
seeing his diamonds and knowing of his wealth; Lincoln Tompkins,
beautiful! cognomen, and a 'cosmopolitan laundry' millionaire; my
proud father nearly offered to kill me on his return, but in spite of
the haughty Vivian we were married; and at his death he left me a rich
woman. A year or so ago I came here to gratify ambition; and so, yes I
think I may be satisfied; my capital is over two millions in gold,
besides good speculations, quick wit, tact enough for my purpose--
blood, I was going to say--and American confidence, pet name, cheek.
Yes, I shall be able to hold my own with the best of 'em. Had I
married George, he would have been savagely jealous of other men; had
it been my idol, he would have been my ruler; as it is, self shall

Peter here announces Colonel Haughton. Madame arises, apologising for
her recumbent position, but not before her future husband has had time
to admire her foot, ankle and shapely arms, for, though her love is
not for him, he is a man and she an inbred coquette, and as a man he
admires her; he has loved but once the fair-haired Alice Esmondet, who
chilled his heart by her refusal, he tells himself she is always so
calm and freezing she could never love and so he goes to his fate who
meets him all smiles and out-stretched hands saying--

"You are finding out my little weaknesses too soon, Colonel, you will
not now have the courage to repeat your words of yesterday."

"If all women looked as charming, indulging their nap over a novel we
should never scold." And her hand in his he led her back to the sofa.
"My friend Trevalyon as well as your own card bid me 'come'; it is
then, as I wish, dear, your consent to honor me with this hand?"

"Yes, if you do not tell of how nearly you won a pair of gloves."

"Instead; I shall tell of winning this fair hand on your waking, when
we wed as now." And his dark moustache is on her lips; "your kisses
are all mine, is it not so, my wife?"

"Can you doubt it? you have conquered."

"You will think me impatient, dear, but I want you to take my name at

"At once! and still, have your own way, my lord. I, like yourself,
have only myself to please."

"At last, I shall feel settled, Kate; the dear old place will again
ring with happy voices, old friends will be there," and he whispered
low and tenderly, "In time, I trust, an heir will prattle at our
knees, how happy would my dear mother be could she see our union
consummated, my life arranged for."----

"This Lady Esmondet, Colonel, is she a very old friend?"

"Very; and I am one of those men who must lean on some woman; I fear
at times I have tried her patience severely."

"What kind of woman is she?"

"Well, I can scarcely describe her; how do you mean, dear. In personal
appearance? no, for you have seen her?"

"Yes, we have met; I mean in other ways, saint or sinner?"

"Neither; a happy medium, quite the woman of the world though;
exclusive in her choice of friends, but true as steel when she does
care for one, gentle, kind and sympathetic."

"How is it she has not repeated the experiment matrimonial?"

"Well, I do not know; with me she invariably changed the subject, and
I did not press it, for I fancied she loved her husband so well she
had no heart left for another."

"'Tis all very well to love a husband, Colonel, but to be faithful to
his corpse is unnatural, while men with beating hearts are above

"True, and now about our own plans, how soon may I claim you, dearest,
say this day week?"

It was just her wish, she would be nearer Trevalyon, while Delrose
would be effectually shut out unless he consented to a friendly
alliance, when he could aid her in forever separating the man she
loved from the fascinating Miss Vernon.

"Is not a week from to-day too awfully soon, Colonel?"

"Not a day, dear; everyone is leaving town, we can take our trip

"When he will, he will; you may have your way, but I have a will too,
my lord, which you will find out some day" she said with a hearty
laugh, "for the present it is that we, during the week, say to-morrow,
take a run down to Surrey and your place. I can then see what changes
I shall make, and everything can be in readiness for us by November."

"Delightful! how I wish Lady Esmondet and my niece, Vaura Vernon, were
here to come with us."

In spite of herself a cloud came to Kate's brow, and she said

"Oh, I don't know, this trip is just as well taken by ourselves."

"Anything you please, dear; they are far away at all events," but he
sighed as he spoke.

"Your niece should marry, Colonel, my step-daughter shall; it is a
great bore to have young ladies to settle in life."

"Vaura will have London at her feet next season; heiresses all go, so
will Miss Tompkins, and for her own sake, I do not doubt."

"Now that you have given me the idea of making up a party to run down
to Surrey, I rather like it. There are the little strawberry blondes,
Mrs. Meltonbury with her sister, Mrs. Marchmont, my step-daughter, Sir
Peter Tedril (who goes down to "Richmondglen," to-morrow at all
events), your friend Captain Trevalyon, and mine Sir Tilton Everly; we
would be as gay as crickets. How do you like us?"

"A pleasant party; but, as I should like to make sure, if possible, of
Trevalyon, I fear I must leave you at once for the club, as after
luncheon he drives out to Richmond with some friends to dinner."

"Yes, yes, make sure of him; there, that will do, you men are all
alike in your taste for affectionate good-byes."

And in a last caress, her heart beats as it has not done to-day, for
her idol may be with her to-morrow.

"You have not told me, my wife, what train it would be most agreeable
for you to take."

"Oh! any that will suit Captain Trevalyon" she said, hurriedly, "I
mean you and he, I leave it to you, only be quick, else you may miss

"If I were a jealous man, your eagerness," he said merrily--

"But you are not, and you know, I only do it for your sake, you are
such friends."

"Thank you, dear, and he is so fond of the Hall, And as you have not
seen him lately you can wish him _bon voyage_ as he leaves sooner than
we do, but I forget, you must have seen him last night to give him
your welcome message for myself."

"Yes, at the Delamer's for one minute; I hoped to see you there, for
your doleful face haunted me since morning, so I just had time to bid
him say to you 'come,' which we know was a romance."

"What a kind little wife I am winning; Trevalyon deserves that I
should deny myself by leaving you too soon, for the content he brought
me in your message, especially as he is feeling cut up about having
missed seeing Lady Esmondet and my niece yesterday afternoon and

"Just so, we must pet him and make sure of him; dine with me to-night
at eight, the rest of the party will be here, you can then state your
arrangements; ta, ta."

Seeing from the window the tall, soldier-like figure safe down the
steps and making rapid strides through the square, she throws herself
on to a lounging chair, with both her hands pressed to her side, says

"These heart throbs are all for you, my idol; oh, that he will be in
time. How stupidly tame he is, but you will be the elixir of life to
me; I shall be a Haughton of Haughton, and you shall be there, and I
shall keep you out of matrimony, and my life will be all bliss."

"Luncheon is served, ma'am."



The following morning the weather perfect, with not a cloud in the
sky, the party, after her own heart and all accepting, while dining at
Eaton square, the previous night, in a robe _a la derniere mode_, Mrs.
Tompkins is content and in her gayest spirits; two large hampers
containing choice wines and dishes to tempt the palate of an epicure
had been sent down by earliest train in case the cellar and larder at
Haughton should fail.

"For Heaven, save me from a hungry man," she had said in the ear of
the strawberry blondes; "I don't want to see him before breakfast;
after dinner, I love them."

At the station were Colonel Haughton with Captain Trevalyon, the
former less calm than usual with just a pleasant touch of excitement
and eagerness about him in the having won the wealthy Mrs. Tompkins
for wife; he must wed gold, and so with his aristocratic name,
belongings and air _distingue_ as bait, the angler had caught the
biggest catch of the season. Captain Trevalyon's handsome face is lit
up with pleasure, his mesmeric blue eyes now smiling, would draw the
heart from a sphinx; for the friends have been congratulating each
other over the coming opening of Haughton Hall, over the intense
pleasure of again being under the same roof daily with Lady Esmondet
and Vaura, with their charming knowledge of human nature, causing a
great charity and pleasant cynicism with no malice in it of the shams
and pet weaknesses of society.

"Take my word for it, Trevalyon, there is nothing to equal Vaura in
the kingdom. I wish you had been at Park Lane the night before last."

"Don't name it, Haughton, I have been quarrelling with fate ever
since; promise me that the next time you see an opening to my joining
them you will let me know."

"That you are in earnest your face tells me; though ten years my
junior, you loved my darling as a child as much as I, and I promise.
But eyes right, old fellow, here comes the carriage and the green and
gold livery of my bride-elect; attention is the word."

"And plenty of it," laughed his friend, as they stepped to the side of
the carriage and shook hands with the four ladies as they alighted.

Madame could not have chosen better foils for her own voluptuous
style than the three women, all angles--looking as she always did,
as though she had been visiting Vulcan, and feeding on the red-hot
coals beneath his hammer, while quenching her thirst from a cantharus
given her by the hand of Bacchus himself. "The strawberry blondes" (as
Mrs. Tompkins made their hearts glad by naming them) are decidedly
red-haired (in common parlance), and robed in sky-blue suits and hats,
all smiles, frizzes, bustles, elbows and pin-backs. Blanche Tompkins,
poor little thing, looks cold and pinched in her steel-grey satin suit
and hat, with silver jewellery, the red rim around her eyes more
pronounced than ever. As they drive into the station yard she peers
intently about, and a wee smile just comes to her face as her hand is
taken by Capt. Trevalyon.

"I need not ask you how you are, dear Mrs. Tompkins, your looks tell
me," said Col. Haughton.

"No, I am not one of the ill-kine, Colonel," laughed his bride-elect.

"Nor yet one of the lean-kine," said Trevalyon gaily.

As the other ladies gathered about, a small London swell, who had come
forward with a beaming face, saying:

"Here we are again," and whom Mrs. Tompkins presented to Col. Haughton
and Capt Trevalyon as "Sir Tilton Everly."

"Excuse me, sir; the carriages are filling up, sir."

"My man is right; we had better secure seats; allow me," said Col.
Haughton, giving his arm to Mrs. Tompkins.

The others were at the steps waiting for her to take her place, but a
quick glance had let her see that one of the six seats is occupied;
and determined to have the man she loves beside her, she says quickly:

"Never mind precedence, 'tis only a picnic; every one of you secure
seats; I shall wait here with the Colonel for Sir Peter Tedril."

"Oh, yes, like a dear thing; we shall die without Sir Peter," cried
Mrs. Meltonbury.

"Oh, yes, we must have dear Sir Peter," echoed her twin.

"Oh, yes, we must all have dear Sir Peter until there is a lady Peter;
good time, you all remember him, though," exclaimed Mrs. Tompkins.

Here Tims comes forward, saying:

"Sir Peter Tedril's servant is yonder, sir, with a message for Mrs.
Tompkins, sir; may I bring him, sir?"

"Certainly, and at once."

The man approaches, touching his hat, saying:

"My master bid me meet you here, madam; a telegram arrived last night,
ma'am, calling him by the early train to Richmondglen; but master will
meet you at the Colonel's place, ma'am, and return with your party to
London, ma'am."

"Very well; and here is a gold bit to drink to the health of your

"You are very good, ma'am."

And with a grin of satisfaction, he drank English beer to American

On stepping to the door of the carriage, Capt. Trevalyon offered his
seat to his friend.

"Not so; we cannot spare you," cried Mrs. Tompkins. "I should have all
these ladies as cross as bears, Sir Peter _non est_ and you away; no,
the Colonel is gallant enough to leave you to us; he will have so much
of _some one_ a week from yesterday."

"No help for it, I suppose," said the victim, ruefully eyeing Everly
seated comfortably between the strawberries, the stranger having
vacated his seat for another coach. Everly was blind and deaf to the
Colonel's wish, taking his cue from his neighbour's, who had said in
an undertone:

"Don't stir, we are afraid of him, and you are so agreeable and nice."

And the guard locked the door, saying respectfully:

"No help for it, sir, I'll find you a seat."



"This just too lovely; you are not going to weep over the exit of the
Colonel?" said Mrs. Tompkins rapturously.

And the sleeve of her jersey brushed Trevalyon's arm as she whispered
above, glancing sideways.

"Enforced exit, you mean; with so seductive a neighbour one cannot but
pity the absent."

But Mrs. Marchmont must be given an occupation, as she is immediately
her opposite neighbour; Trevalyon will then not feel it incumbent on
him to notice her, and will then be hers as though in a _tete-a-tete_;
and so with the imperiousness that newly-acquired wealth lends to some
natures, she says:

"Here, Fairy, is Agnes Fleming's latest; as I warn you I shall
monopolize Capt. Trevalyon until we reach the Hall of 'Haughton,' when
some one else will go in for monopoly of me."

"Yes, you poor dear thing, he will;" and she tittered; "but when the
cat is away mousey can play; consider me asleep over my novel."

The absurdity of her remark struck Trevalyon so forcibly that he could
not restrain a laugh.

"I don't believe you pity me one bit," said Mrs. Tompkins in a low
tone, looking into his eyes reproachfully.

"Not one bit."

"Even after what I have told you?"

"Even after that," he answered, in lowest of tones; for they are in
such close contact she can see what he would say as his lips frame the

"You are the only man who has been cruel to me."

"How so?"

"Oh, because," and the eyelids droop, for the lashes are long and
black, though she would fain, look forever into the blue eyes above
her. "Oh, because it is simply a woman's reason; give me your own."

"You are cruel, because to whom much is given, of him is much

"You flatter me; but let us look on the reverse side; I am a lonely
man, I may say without kith or kin; I am almost sworn against wedded
ties, but I love you all, have given much and require much."

And the easy _sang-froid_ habitual to him gave place to a sadness of
expression, a tired look, that ere now had made women weep. Mrs.
Tompkins, impulsive to a degree, would fain have ordered everyone from
the coach, taken his head to her breast, and bid him rest; a tremor is
in her voice as she asks:

"Why will you not marry?" And for one moment she is willing to cut her
heart out so he is happy; the next, ready to tear the heart from any
woman who could make him so.

He sees by her tones the effect he is producing; he must again don his
mask, and not excite her pity by reference to the sadness of his inner
life, caused by his dead father's griefs; he had been foolish, but he
had wished her in an indirect way to know that as no woman held his
whole heart neither could she; and so, almost in his old easy tones,
he says:

"Why not marry? I prefer you to frame some pretty imaginings to bore
you on our pleasure jaunt with my own; and here we are at our English
Frascati, Richmond the enchanting. Have you ever sunned yourself in
Italy, fair madame?"

"No, nor should I care to; the Italian is too lazy, too dreamy for

"Then you cannot enter into the spirit of Thompson's 'Castle of

"There is no spirit in it; no, I had rather sell peanuts at a Broadway
corner, roast chestnuts on a Parisian boulevard, or flowers in Regent
Street, than wade through one stanza of his sleepy poems."

Trevalyon laughed, saying:

"How full of active life and vim you are; now, I, at times, could
write of dreamy idleness _con amore_. Do you never weary of our
incessant hunt after some new sensation?"

"Never! 'tis the very main-spring of my existence, 'tis what I live

"How will you manage to kill time at 'Haughton' Hall out of the

"You will be there," and the black eyes meet his unflinchingly. "And
if not I am a great wanderer."

"Some distraction shall dull my senses till you come."

"But, you poor little fire-eater, supposing your liking for me to be
real," and no ear but hers heard his whispered words "with my
knowledge of Haughton's noble nature, I should curse myself did I
cause him one jealous pang."

She pressed close to him as she breathed tenderly--

"Trust me my idol he shall never dream of my idolatry."

And the passionate face is transfigured in a tenderness new to it, for
her passion has grown doubly strong in this drive from London, and she
hugs to herself the thought that her love will beget his, all shame
for its avowal is foreign to her breast, reckless and impulsive, her
wish is her will.

"Your heart is as loving and untamed as Eve's, you must not tempt me
to forget that he is my friend."

"I _must_." And the jewelled fingers (for her gloves are off) cling to
his as he assists her to alight, for Richmond passed they are at the
village of 'Haughton,' and the guard has called--

"Ladies and gentlemen for the Hall please alight."

A covered carriage and dog-cart are down in answer to the telegram of
Colonel Haughton who has already alighted and meets his guests as they
emerge from the carriage.

"Here we are again," says small Sir Tilton Everly, "Such a jolly
drive, I am glad you invited me, Colonel Haughton; never was past
Richmond proper before."

"No?" said the Colonel carelessly, and, stepping quickly to Mrs.
Tompkins, says, "It has been dreary banishment to me; allow me."

"You look like a man who has missed his dinner; or, as John Bull,
outwitted by brother Jonathan," said his bride elect with a latent
meaning as laughing heartily she takes his arm to the carriage.

"Or had a John Bright man step in before him at the election."

"Confound his impudence," thought Colonel Haughton, saying, "I am not,
a Mark Tapley."

"Any man with a spice of gallantry" said Trevalyon coming to his
friend's aid, "would feel as if Siberian banishment had been his
portion, had he been separated from so fair a group of ladies."

Are the men doing anything to 'Rose Cottage' Trimmer," enquired his
master of a shrewd looking man in brown and buff livery.

"Yes, sir, it's in good order now."

"This lady is my new tenant, anything you can do Trimmer to meet her
requirements will oblige me."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you Colonel Haughton, you are very kind," said Mrs. Marchmont.

"Don't mention it, anything I can do will give me pleasure."

"It is a sweet spot; my darling child, Miranda, is a naturalist and
will collect many insects."

"From the Hall?" said Blanche with her innocent air.

"No, no, dear, from the grounds."

"Drive on, Trimmer, I shall take the dog-cart."

"Yes, sir."

"What a sweet spot and how quaint the shops look," said Mrs. Marchmont
as they were rapidly driven through the village.

"Not quaint, but vacant" laughed Mrs. Tompkins, "the whole thing has a
vacant air about it, the inhabitant looks as though he was born
yesterday and wondering what day it was; I'd rather see a yankee
whittling a stick with his saucy independent air; hat on the back of
his head so he can see what is going on, than any one of 'em."

"I could buy out the whole lot myself," said Blanche jeeringly, with
her small head turning as if on a pivot.

"What a delightful feeling," said Mrs. Meltonbury, admiringly, "Yes
it's just too lovely. If my poppa was here he'd throw no end of dimes
and pea-nuts among 'em; always had pea-nuts in his pockets; how they
stare, it's just too funny for anything."

"How wealthy he must have been, I just adore money!" said the

"I believe you," answered Blanche laconically.

"Pity you have that husband out in Ontario, Melty," said Mrs.
Tompkins, "or I should soon find you another millionaire, you ought to
get a divorce, plea; he is Canadian Government _attache_ not your

"What a dear thing you are; it would be too sweet."

"Which, the millionaire or the divorce," at which there was a peal of

"I am afraid sister referred to the man," sighed Mrs. Marchmont, "but
how sad for poor dear Meltonbury."

"He'd survive it," said Blanche sententiously.

"As I live there is Lord Rivers and a man worth stopping for. Halt,
coachman," cried Mrs. Tompkins eagerly.

And they stopped in front of the D'Israeli Arms where a group of
gentlemen were watering their horses.

"Ah! how do Mrs. Tompkins," said Lord Rivers lazily wheeling his
handsome bay and lifting his hat to the group.

"Whither bound?"

"For 'Haughton' Hall, you are coming I hope, now don't say no for I
shall not listen if you do."

"Too bad, but I am due at Epsom, a little trotting race is on, and if
not the lord of Haughton, whom I met up the road, did not give me an

"But I do," said Madame with emphasis.

"He is a lucky fellow," he said slowly and taking in the situation.

"So I think," she said laughing, and remembering she had Trevalyon for
to-day continued hastily, "we open the Hall for no end of revels at
Christmas, I must have you then."

"I shall slumber and dream of you until that time," and with a long
side glance from his sleepy eyes the Epicurean peer put spurs to his
horse to overtake his friends.

"Drive on, coachman."

"What deep eyes Lord Rivers has; he quite looks one through. What a
pity such a sweet man should have such an ugly, disagreeable wife, I
never thought she would be even a possible choice for any man," said
the Marchmont.

"Better for us, it makes him sigh for the impossible," said Mrs.

"And 'tis such a sweet mission for a woman, that of consoler," sighed
the Marchmont.

"To a man," said Blanche with her innocent air.

"Of course to a man; a woman would suspect a latent pity for which she
would reward you with her claws," said Mrs. Tompkins.

"Sweet consoler, I shall send to Pittsburg for a cast-iron heart and
buy out some druggist's court plaster," said Blanche. "You shall
console a husband next season, I am determined in this."

"Indeed! who have you got me ticketed for?" and the pink eyes turned
towards her step-mother.

"Little Sir Tilton would be just her height, dear Mrs. Tompkins," and
Mrs. Meltonbury clasped her hands in ecstasy.

"Mrs. Tompkins will tell you how I love him," said Blanche

"Yes Melty, Blanche cannot endure him and besides he is my little
beau," said Madame with an air of proprietorship.

But the Hall of the Haughtons is reached, and the carriage rolls
through the wide open gates. At the pretty lodge door stands the
keeper and his wife, he pulls off his cap while she curtsies low,
their future mistress tosses them a gold bit at which more curtsy and
bow. What a magnificent avenue through the great park, the oak and elm
mingling their branches and interlacing their arms overhead, through
which a glimpse of blue heavens with golden gleams of sunlight are
seen. A turn in the road and the grand entrance is before them, on
either side of which are flower beds in full bloom. A conservatory is
all around the octagon south wing, now bereft of its floral beauties
excepting its orchards and ferns. It is really a fine old place, large
and massive, in grey stone and with the grandeur of other days about
it; the arms and motto show well in the sculptor's work over the
entrance; the words "Always the same" and "Loyal unto death," standing
out brave and firm, as the Haughtons have for generations unnumbered.
On the steps stand the master of Haughton, beside him his friend of
years, Trevalyon, behind them their acquaintance, small Sir Tilton
Everly. In the background, on either side of the Hall, are the
household, only a few for their master has an uncomfortably small
income, but they love him and will not leave him for filthy lucre's
sake. But they are glad of the news that their master will marry and
that a good time is coming for them.

"Thrice welcome to Haughton Hall, my dear guest," said Col. Haughton,
taking the hand of his bride-elect and leading her up the steps; "your
future mistress, and if you are as faithful to us both as you have
been to myself you will do well."

"Thank you kindly, master," said the old butler.

"We will, we will, sir," was echoed from all sides.

After a substantial luncheon, at which they were very merry, Sir Peter
Tedril joining them at table, there was a scattering of forces, Col.
Haughton giving his arm to his future wife in introducing her to her
future home.

"You say I am to make all things new if I please, Colonel."

"Even to remodelling myself, my dear Kate."

"Wise man, for I am accustomed to get my way, most days," she added,
with a side glance at Trevalyon.

And in her inspection she admired or ridiculed, laughed at or
condemned, old time-worn tapestry and furniture mouldings and
decorations, as ruthlessly as though mere cobwebs. It was finally
decided that their tour would be at once, and to New York and Paris,
from whence renovators and decorators should be imported; two or three
apartments ^only were to be held sacred; old things were to pass away,
all was to become new. The future mistress threw a good deal of vim
into her walk and talk, doing all in a business-like manner,
determined that Haughton Hall should be unequalled for luxurious
comfort. Moreover, doing her duty in allowing her future husband to
monopolize her for two or three hours; so earning her reward in
Trevalyon in the drive by rail home to the city. The demeanour of
Haughton in these hours pleased her; he was not lover-like, but
properly admiring and tractable. Once before his mother's portrait he
was very much affected, regretting she could not see his happiness,
while she inwardly congratulated herself that the stately dame only
lived on canvas.

"And now, I suppose, we have 'done' (excuse the slang) the spacious,
and I must say, the very complete home of your fathers, Colonel; and I
may close my notebook," she said, with a satisfied but somewhat
relieved air.

"Excepting the north tower, which you would please me very much by
making the ascent of; it is selfish, but I shall have you a little
while longer to myself, especially as I agree with you that I had best
stay here until tomorrow evening to set some of my people to work."

"Two heads are better than one, Colonel," and her pulses throb;
another _tete-a-tete_ with her idol made easy.

"Yes, dear, I should have been obliged to run down within the week had
I not remained."

"True, and now for the tower; which is the door?"

"Up a dozen steps; I shall have to leave you while I go back for the
open sesame."

"In here? 'tis dark; but never mind, run away."

"It is my armoury, and should be locked; but the negligence of the
servants gives you a resting place, it is so near the tower; this
large leather chair you will find comfortable."

"Thank you, that will do; lift over that box with the dynamite; look
about it for my feet."

"Beautiful feet! and my wife's," he whispered low.

"Ta, ta. I have plenty to occupy my eyes."

"Yes, I take quite a pride in my armour, from our own and foreign
lands; with the _sabre de mon pere_, Indian idols, Highland targets,
and many relics of my happiest days.".

"There, there, that will be very comfortable; by-by."

His footsteps have scarce died away when she is conscious of not being
alone, and though in the dim light, her nerves are strong and do not
give way; still she slowly arises humming an air, and as if to have a
nearer view of an Indian curiosity. Scarcely has she done so than she
is clasped in the strong arms of a man who has come from behind her,
and pillows her face closely to his breast to prevent a scream, and so
she shall not recognize him. She dreaded the return of Col. Haughton,
now that events are shaping themselves fairly well; her immediate fear
is lest any escapade should cause him to return with her to London,
which would perforce prevent her immediate escort by the man she
loves. So she allowed a tremor to pass through her, thinking to excite
pity--which she did, for he slightly loosened his tight hold.

"Let me go and I shall not scream; you may have my money or jewels,"
she said in gasps.

"I only want you, my beauty," said a voice she knew well--the voice of
George Delrose. And her face is rudely kissed again and again.

"I hope you are satisfied; I shall not ask you how you came here, for
as I have before had occasion to remark, you are Lucifer himself," she
said in cutting accents.

"Kate, don't, or you will kill me; I must know your moves or I shall
go mad."

And the strong man groans for his weakness, pressing his forehead with
both hands.

"Tedril met me at the 'Russel Club' after dining with you last night;
he then told me he was coming here at your invitation. Seeing how
dreadfully cut up I was he changed his plans, and to give me a chance
of a word with you ran down on first train to his place; we then rode
over; he managed an _entree_ to the Hall and secured me a retreat
here, loitering about the park himself until luncheon. He tells me you
are to marry Haughton; I reeled at his words, and would have fallen;
but 'courage,' I told myself, 'she is not so cruel'; tell me, my
beauty, that they lie; you could never love such an iceberg."

"You know me well enough for that, George."

"Had it been that other to whom I heard you--"

"Overheard, you mean; but one word of that, and I scream out."

"I repeat," and his voice grew fierce in its intense rage; "had it
been even said you were to wed him, I would have shot him; the other
you would be wretched with, so I am safe there."

"I confess to the being curious; did you hear the whispered nothings
of the Colonel as he left me?"

"No, I was behind the coats-of-mail at the end of the room; but I
should not have been jealous; a man _must_ make love to you; it is
yours for _me_ I dread will change; your words to Trevalyon are burned
to my memory; _but he shall never have you, I have sworn it_."

And in spite of herself she trembled, not for herself, but for the man
she loved; but recovering herself quickly, and wishing to quiet him
before the Colonel returned, said:

"How could I possibly marry a man with a hidden wife?"

Delrose, taking her face in his hands, tried in vain to read her
heart; sighing heavily, he said:

"Oh, Kate, could you love me faithfully, devotedly, as I do you, what
a life ours would be; but you are a slave to fancy, a creature of
impulse, and I am now a mere barrier in your path, to be kicked aside
at will; yet knowing this, I love you as ever, with the same old mad
passion; and should you desert me, Heaven help me;" and the ring of
truth and despair in his tones would have touched the heart of

But Kate, accustomed to eat greedily of life's sugar-plums, only
stamped her foot impatiently at his persistence, saying:

"You are just a great big monopolist, George, and don't want our world
to look at me, even through a glass case; the idea of you being
jealous of a man whom we both agreed to sit on if he play bigamist;
you forget our partizanship."

"See how quickly a kind word from you calms me my queen, but its too
bad, beauty, I must hide again. I hear him returning."

"I shall go and meet him so he shall not lock you in."

"You were not long, Colonel, but I am quite rested and now for the
tower stairs key, which way?"

"This way, but I need not have left you; Trimmer tells me the door is
unlocked and our guests in advance of us.

"Oh, how lovely, it will save time looking them up; 'tis four-forty-
five now, and at seven the up train is due."

In twenty minutes the ascent is made and madame stepped among her
friends, her short navy blue satin skirt being just the thing to get
about in easily; 'twas a handsome robe too with its heavy fringe and
jets with bonnet to match, black silk jersey, heavy gold jewellery and
jaunty satchel with monagram in gold slung over her round shoulder.
She looked well and carried her head high and had her under jaw and
mouth been less square and heavy she would have been handsome.

"What a band of idlers you look," she said "after my hard pilgrimage."

"Refreshingly _dolce far niente_, I should say," said Trevalyon

"How do you like the view, ladies?" enquired the Colonel, which gave
Sir Peter Tedril his opportunity.

"Have you seen him?" he said in an undertone,

"I have."

"Thank Heaven, it's over! you look so calm I feared it had to come."

"I don't wear my heart on my sleeve."

"The Colonel did not see him," he again asked.

"No, I did and alone in the armory."

"Where I left him, poor fellow."

"That will do; the others may hear."

"Allow me to adjust the telescope for you, Tedril," said Trevalyon. "I
know it well, now, Mrs. Tompkins, you have a fine view taking in as
you see a ravishing bit of Richmond a very embodiment of rest, at
least where you are gazing, with the music which you are to imagine of
the Thames at its feet."

"Enough;" she said, "I am no poet, and with me a little of that sort
of thing goes a long way; turn it on something practical, if it will
range so far."

"Shall it be London, Guildford, or _chic_ little Epsom, fair Madame?"

"Give me London."

"Our gilded Babylon, _versus_ ethereal skies, with lights and shadows
that would send an artist wild," said Trevalyon, gaily readjusting the

"Why, Trevalyon, such sentiments from you," exclaimed the Colonel,
while the others gathered around.

"'Tis a practical age, I like his view," said Everly.

"Do you, well take it; my eyes pain me," cried Madame.

"I wish I could take the pain too," he answered gallantly.

"You have taken both, sweet child; we had better all be off, every
body. Time flies."

"He does; it tires one to think of him,"' said Trevalyon, consulting
his watch.

"'Tis _so_ sweet up here," sighed the Marchmont. "I am feasting my
eyes on Rose Cottage."

"'Tis near dinner time, Mrs. Marchmont," said Blanche.

"When you will sigh, fish of sea, fowl of air _versus_ Rose Cottage,"
said Tedril.

"Though following Sir Peter's lead from the depths to the heights,
'tis only to feed the inner-man, therefore as we grow prosaic we had
best descend to the level of Rose Cottage," said Trevalyon.

For he felt that he was losing himself in memories of the past, here
he had sat many hours with Vaura and his friend, now everything would
be so changed; he knew it was foolish, but since he had seen a colored
miniature of her in her uncle's possession in all the beauty of
womanhood, he craved for her living presence, and he felt that the
first step as he now made it down the old stairs brought him nearer
the consummation of his wish. He was glad his arrangements to leave
London at sunrise were complete; he wished the up trip was over; he
did not pine for another _tete-a-tete_ with Madame; she was capital
company, but she belonged to his friend; he only hoped he would be
able to hold her that was all. On their descent, after a few minutes
adjournment to the dining-room where delicious tea with walnuts in
sweet butter and salt and scraped Stilton cheese in rich French pastry
were duly relished, besides cold ham, chicken with sparkling hock and
Malmsey. And now again, merrier than birds, away to the station; this
time Mrs. Tompkins and the Meltonbury take the dog-cart with Colonel
Haughton. They outstrip the carriage; but now all alight.

"Gentlemen and ladies for the carriages, please take seats at once,"
sang the guard.

"How are you off for room, guard," enquired the Colonel.

"Seats in this one for two, sir."

"Sir Tilton, might I trouble you to take charge of my step-daughter; I
know it will be a bore," she added in an undertone, "but I shall
reward you my dear little poppet."

"Seats for five more, guard," shouted Tedril, for the engine was
almost off.

"This way, sir."


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