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- The Trespasser, Volume 2. - 10/12 -

"In the lodge of the Mother of Men, In the land of Desire, Are the embers of fire, Are the ashes of those who return, Who return to the world: Who flame at the breath Of the Mockers of Death. O Sweet, we will voyage again To the camp of Love's fire, Nevermore to return!"

"How am I doing?" she said at the end of this verse. She really did not know--her voice seemed an endless distance away. But she felt the stillness in the drawing-room.

"Well," he said. "Now for the other. Don't be afraid; let your voice, let yourself, go."

"I can't let myself go."

"Yes, you can: just swim with the music."

She did swim with it. Never before had Peppingham drawing-room heard a song like this; never before, never after, did any of Delia Gasgoyne's friends hear her sing as she did that night. And Lady Gravesend whispered for a week afterwards that Delia Gasgoyne sang a wild love song in the most abandoned way with that colonial Belward. Really a song of the most violent sentiment!

There had been witchery in it all. For Gaston lifted the girl on the waves of his music, and did what he pleased with her, as she sang:

"O love, by the light of thine eye We will fare oversea, We will be As the silver-winged herons that rest By the shallows, The shallows of sapphire stone; No more shall we wander alone. As the foam to the shore Is my spirit to thine; And God's serfs as they fly,-- The Mockers of Death They will breathe on the embers of fire: We shall live by that breath,-- Sweet, thy heart to my heart, As we journey afar, No more, nevermore, to return!"

When the song was ended there was silence, then an eager murmur, and requests for more; but Gaston, still lengthening the close of the accompaniment, said quietly:

"No more. I wanted to hear you sing that song only."

He rose.

"I am so very hot," she said.

"Come into the hall."

They passed into the long corridor, and walked up and down, for a time in silence.

"You felt that music?" he asked at last.

"As I never felt music before," she replied.

"Do you know why I asked you to sing it?"

"How should I know?"

"To see how far you could go with it."

"How far did I go?"

"As far as I expected."

"It was satisfactory?"


"But why--experiment--on me?"

"That I might see if you were not, after all, as much a barbarian as I."

"Am I?"

"No. That was myself singing as well as you. You did not enjoy it altogether, did you?"

"In a way, yes. But--shall I be honest? I felt, too, as if, somehow, it wasn't quite right; so much--what shall I call it?"

"So much of old Adam and the Garden? Sit down here for a moment, will you?"

She trembled a little, and sat.

"I want to speak plainly and honestly to you," he said, looking earnestly at her. "You know my history--about my wife who died in Labrador, and all the rest?"

"Yes, they have told me."

"Well, I have nothing to hide, I think; nothing more that you ought to know: though I've been a scamp one way and another."

"'That I ought to know'?" she repeated.

"Yes: for when a man asks a woman to be his wife, he should be prepared to open the cupboard of skeletons." She was silent; her heart was beating so hard that it hurt her.

"I am going to ask you to be my wife, Delia."

She was silent, and sat motionless, her hands clasped in her lap.

He went on

"I don't know that you will be wise to accept me, but if you will take the risk--"

"Oh, Gaston, Gaston!" she said, and her hands fluttered towards his.

An hour later, he said to her, as they parted for the night:

"I hope, with all my heart, that you will never repent of it, Delia."

"You can make me not repent of it. It rests with you, Gaston; indeed, indeed, all with you."

"Poor girl!" he said, unconsciously, as he entered his room. He could not have told why he said it. "Why will you always sit up for me, Brillon?" he asked a moment afterwards.

Jacques saw that something had occurred. "I have nothing else to do, sir," he replied. "Brillon," Gaston added presently, "we're in a devil of a scrape now."

"What shall we do, monsieur?"

"Did we ever turn tail?"

"Yes, from a prairie fire."

"Not always. I've ridden through."

"Alors, it's one chance in ten thousand!"

"There's a woman to be thought of--Jacques."

"There was that other time."

"Well, then?"

Presently Jacques said: "Who is she, monsieur?"

Gaston did not answer. He was thinking hard. Jacques said no more. The next morning early the guests knew who the woman was, and by noon Jacques also.



Gaston let himself drift. The game of love and marriage is exciting, the girl was affectionate and admiring, the world was genial, and all things came his way. Towards the end of the hunting season Captain Maudsley had an accident. It would prevent him riding to hounds again, and at his suggestion, backed by Lord Dunfolly and Lord Dargan, Gaston became Master of the Hounds. His grandfather and great-grandfather had been Master of the Hounds before him. Hunting was a keen enjoyment--one outlet for wild life in him--and at the last meet of the year he rode in Captain Maudsley's place. They had a good run, and the taste of it remained with Gaston for many a day; he thought of it sometimes as he rode in the Park now every morning--with Delia and her mother.

Jacques and his broncho came no more, or if they did it was at unseasonable hours, and then to be often reprimanded (and twice arrested) for furious riding. Gaston had a bad moment when he told Jacques that he need not come with him again. He did it casually, but, cool as he was, a cold sweat came on his cheek. He had to take a little brandy to steady himself--yet he had looked into menacing rifle-barrels more than once without a tremor. It was clear, on the face of it, that Delia and her mother should be his companions in the Park, and not this grave little half-breed; but, somehow, it got on his nerves. He hesitated for days before he could cast the die against Jacques. It had been the one open bond of the old life; yet the man was but a servant, and to be treated as such, and was, indeed, except on rarest occasions. If Delia had known that Gaston balanced the matter between her and Jacques, her indignation might perhaps have sent matters to a crisis. But Gaston did the only possible thing; and the weeks drifted on.

Happy? It was inexplicable even to himself that at times, when he left Delia, he said unconsciously: "Well, it's a pity!"

The Trespasser, Volume 2. - 10/12

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