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- A Heart-Song of To-day - 10/67 -
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 another.
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 lazily.
"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,
"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 telescope.
"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."
The strawberries with hasty good-byes are on board with Tedril.
"Dine with me to-morrow evening, Colonel. By, by," said Mrs. Tompkins pleasantly, for he was so easy and she would have Trevalyon up.
But the latter, lifting his hat, said:
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