he chooses to come, he will come,” she said. said she, “ as the other. I cannot rob you “Of course he will come,” Mrs. Askerton in that way. I cannot and I shall not. had answered, and then they heard the ring And why should I? What do I want with of the bell. “There he is. I could swear to such an income? Something I ought to the sound of his foot. Doesn't he step as have, if only for the credit of the family, though he were Belton of Belton, and con- and that I am willing to take from your scious that everything belonged to him ? " kindness; but”. Then there was a pause.

" He has been " It's all settled now, Clara." shown in to Colonel Askerton. What on “ I don't think that you can lessen the earth could be want with him ?”

weight of your obligation, Miss Amedroz, “ He has called to tell him something after what has been done up in London," about the cottage,” said Clara, endeavour- said the Colonel. ing to speak as though she were calın “ If you had said a hundred a year". through it all.

“I have been allowed to say nothing,” Cottage! Fiddlestick! The idea of a said Belton ; “ those people have said eight, man coming to look after his trumpery cot- - and so it is settled. When are you comtage on the first day of his showing himself ing over to see Mary ? " as lord of his own property! Perhaps he is To this question he got no definite andemanding that you shall be delivered up swer, and as he went away immediately to him. If he does, I shall vote for obey- afterwards he hardly seemed to expect one. ing."

He did not even ask for Mrs. Askerton, and, * And I for disobeying, and shall vote as that lady remarked, behaved altogether very strongly, too."

like a bear. “ But what a munificent bear!” Their suspense was yet prolonged for she said. • Fancy; — eight hundred a year another ten minutes, and at the end of that of your own. One begins to doubt whether time the servant came in and asked if Miss it is worth one's while to marry at all with Amedroz would be good enough to go into such an income as that to do what one likes the master's room. “ Mr. Belton is there, with! However, it all means nothing. It Fanny ?” asked Mrs. Askerton. The girl will all be his own again before you have confessed that Mr. Belton was there, and even touched it.” then Clara, without another word, got up “ You must not say anything more about and left the room. She had much to do in that,” said Clara gravely. assuming a look of composure before she “ And why must I not ?” opened the door; but she made the effort, “ Because I shall hear nothing more of it. and was not unsuccessful. In another sec- There is an end of all that,

as there ond she found her hand in her cousin's, and ought to be.” his bright eye was fixed upon her with that Why an end? I don't cee an end. eager, friendly glance which made his face There will be no end till Belton of Belton 80 pleasant to those whom he loved. has got you and your eight hundred a year

"Your cousin has been telling me of the as well as everything else.” arrangements he has been making for you “ You will find that — he - does not with the lawyers,” said Colonel Askerton. mean - anything – more,” said Clara. “I can only say that I wish all ladies had “ You think not ?" cousins so liberal, and so able to be liberal”

sure of it." Then there was a “ I thought I would see Colonel Askerton little sound in her throat as though she first, as you are staying at his house. And were in some danger of being choked; but as for liberality, — there is nothing of the she soon recovered herself, and was able to : kind. You must understand, Clara, that a express herself clearly. “I have only one fellow can't do what he likes with his own favour to ask you now, Mrs. Askerton, and in this country. I have found myself so that is that you will never say anything bullied by lawyers and that sort of people, more about him. He has changed his that I have been obliged to yield to them. mind. Of course he has, or he would not I wanted that you should have the old come here like that and have gone away place, to do just what you pleased with it.” without saying a word.”

“ That was out of the question, Will." “ Not a word! A man gives you eight

“Of course it was,” said Colonel Asker- hundred a year, and that is not saying a ton. Then, as Belton himself did not pro- word !" ceed to the telling of his own story, the “ Not a word except about money? But Colonel told it for him, and explained what of course he is right. I know that he is was the income which Clara was to receive. right. After what has passed he would be

“ But that is as much out of the question,” | very wrong to - to - think about it any

" I am

ask me

more. You joke about his being Belton of soil ; but there is much more in it when it Belton. But it does make a difference." contains the memories of old years ; when “ It does ; does it?"

the glory is the glory of race as well as the " It has made a difference. I see and glory of power and property: There had feel it now. I shall never — hear him — been Beltons of Belton living there for

that question - any more.” many centuries, and now he was the Belton “ And if you did hear him, what answer of the day, standing on his own ground, would you make him ?."

the descendant and representative of the “ I don't know."

Beltons of old, - Belton of Bilton without " That is just it. Women are so cross- a flaw in his pedigree! He felt himself to grained that it is a wonder to me that men be proud of his position, — prouder than he should ever have anything to do with them. could have been of any other that might They have about them some madness of a have been vouchsafed to him. And yet phantasy which they dignify with the name amidst it all he was somewhat ashamed of of feminine pride, and under the cloak of his pride. , " The man who can do it fir this they believe themselves to be justified himself is the real man after all,” he said. in tormenting their lovers' lives out. The “But I have got it by a fluke, - and by only consolation is that they torment them- such a sad chance too!” Then he wanselves as much. Can anything be more dered on, thinking of the circumstances cross-grained than you are at this moment? under which the property had fallen into You were resolved just now that it would his hands, and remembering how and when be the most unbecoining thing in the world and where the first idea had occurred to if he spoke a word more about his love for him of making Clara Amedroz his wife. the next twelvemonths”.

He had then felt that if he could only do “Mrs. Askerton, I said nothing about that he could reconcile himself to the heirtwelvemonths."

ship. And the idea had grown upon him * And now you are broken-hearted be- instantly, and had become a passion by the cause he did not blurt it all out before Col- eagerness with which he had wel omed it. onel Askerton in a business interview, From that day to this he had continued to which was very properly had at once, and tell himself that he could not enjoy his good in which he has had the exceeding good fortune unless he could enjoy it with ber. taste to confine himself altogether to the There had come to be a horridl impediment one subject."

a barrier which had seemed “I am not complaining."

to have been placed there by bis evil for. " It was good taste; though if he had not tune, to compensate the gifts given to him been a bear he might have asked after me, by his good fortune, and that barrier had who are fighting his battles for him night been Captain Aylmer. He had not, in and day.”

fact, seen much of bis rival, but he had “ But what will he do next?

seen enough to make it matter of wonder “ Eat his dinner, I should think, as it is to him that Clara could be attached to such now nearly five o'clock. Your father used a man. He had thoroughly despised Capalways to dine at five.”

tain Aylmer, and had longed to show his I can't go to see Mary,” she said, “ till contempt of the man by kicking bim out of he comes here again."

the hotel at the London railway station. “ He will be here fast enough. I shouldn't At that moment all the world had seemed wonder if he was to come again to-night.” to him to be wrong and wretched. And he did come again that night.

But now it seemed that all the world When Belton's interview was over in the might so easily be made right again! The Colonel's study he left the house, - without impediment had got itself removed. Beleven asking after the mistress, as that mis- ton did not even yet altogether comprehend tress had taken care to find out, — and by what means Clara had escaped from the went off, rambling about the estate which meshes of the Aylmer Park people, but he was now his own. It was a beautiful place, did know that she had escaped. Her eyes and he was not insensible to the gratifica- had been opened before it was too late, and tion of being its owner. There is much in she was a free woman,

to be compassed the glory of ownership, — of the ownership if only a man might compass her. While of land and houses, of beeves and woolly she had been engaged to Captain Aylmer, flocks, of wide fields and thick-growing Will bad felt that she was not assailable. woods, even when that ownership is of late Though he had not been quite able to redate, when it conveys to the owner nothing strain himself, as on that fatal occasion but the realization of a property on the when he had taken her in his arms and

in his way,


kissed her, — still he had known that as she at that period of the year in which our sumwas an engaged woman, he could not, with- mer evenings just begin, when the air is out insulting her, press his own suit upon sweeter and the flowers more fragrant, and her. But now all that was over. Let him the forms of the foliage more lovely than at say what he liked on that head, she would any other time. It was now eight o'clock, have no proper plea for anger. She was but it was hardly as yet evening; node at assailable; — and, as this was so, why the least of the gloom of evening had come, mischief should he not set about the work though the sun was low in the heavens. at once ? His sister bade him to wait. At the cottage they were all sitting out on Why should he wait when one fortunate the lawn; and as Belton came near be was word might do it ? Wait! He could not seen by them, and he saw them. wait. Ilow are you to bid a starving man “I told you so," said Mrs. Askerton to to wait when you put him down at a well- Clara, in a whisper. covered board ? Here was he, walking “ He is not coming in,” Clara answered. about Belton Park, - just where she used “He is going on." to walk with him; — and there was she at But when he had come nearer, Colonel Belton Cottage, within half an hour of him Askerton called to him over the garden at this moment, if he were to go quickly; paling, and asked him to join them. He and yet Mary was telling him to wait ! No; was now standing within ten

or fifteen he would not wait. There could be no rea- yards of them, though the fence divided son for waiting. Wait, indeed, till some them. “I have come to ask my cousin other Captain Aylmer should come in the Clara to take a walk with me,” he said. way and give him more trouble !

She can be back by your tea time.” He So he wandered on, resolving that he made his request very placidly, and did not would see his cousin again that very day. in any way look like a lover. Such an interview as that which had just “I am sure she will be glad to go," said taken place between two such dear friends Mrs. Askerton. But Clara said nothing. was not natural, - was not to be endured. - Do take a turn with me, if you are not What might not Clara think of it! To meet tired,” said be. her for the first time after her escape from She has not been out all day, and canAylmer Park, and to speak to her only on not be tired,” said Mrs. Askerton, who had matters concerning money! He would cer- now walked up to the paling. “ Clara, get tainly go to her again on that afternoon. your hat. But, Mr. Belton, what have I In his walking, he came to the bottom of done that I am to be treated in this way? the rising ground on the top of which Perhaps you don't remember that you

have stood the rock on which he and Clara had not spoken to me since your arrival.” twice sat. But he turned away, and would Upon my word, I beg your pardon," not go up to it. He hoped that he might said be, endeavouring to stretch his hand go up to it very soon, but, except under across the bushes. I forgot I didn't see certain circumstances, he would never go you this morning." up to it again.

" I suppose I musn't be angry, as this is "" I am going across to the cottage imme- your day of taking possession ; but it is exdiately after dinner," he said to his sister. actly on such days as this that one likes to “ Have you an appointment ?

be remembered.” “ No; I have no appointment. I suppose " I didn't mean to forget you, Mrs. Aska man doesn't want an appointment to go erton; I didn't, indeed. And as for the and see his own cousin down in the coun- special day, that's all bosh, you know. I try.”

baven't taken particular possession of any. * I don't know what their habits are." thing that I know of.”

“ I shan't ask to go in; but I want to see I hope you will, Mr. Belton, before the her.”

day is over," said she. Clara had" at Mary looked at him with loving, sorrow. length arisen, and had gone into the house ing eyes, but she said no more. She loved to fetch her hat. She had not spoken a him so well that she would have given her word, and even yet her cousin did not know right hand to get for him what he wanted; whether she was coming. “I hope you will

- but she sorrowed to think that he should take possession of a great deal that is very want such a thing so sorely. Immediately valuable. Clara has gone to get her hat.” after his dinner, he took his hat and went “ Do you think she means to walk ? " out without saying a word further, and made “I think she does, Mr. Belton. And his way once more across to the gate of the there she is at the door. Mind you bring cottage. It was a lovely summer evening, her back to tea.”





« Yes ;


Clara, as she came forth, felt herself quite “ Nor will you go to Aylmer Park ?” unable to speak, or walk, or look, after her “ No; certainly not. Of all the places usual manner. She knew herself to be a on earth, Will, to which you would send victim, - to be so far a victim that she me, Aylmer Park is the one to which I could no longer control her own fate. To should go most unwillingly.” Captain Aylover, at any rate, she had never “I don't want to send you there." succumbed. In all her dealings with him “ You never could be made to understand she had fought upon an equal footing. She what a woman she is; low disagreeable, had never been compelled to own berself how cruel, how imperious, how insolent.” mastered. But now she was being led out “ Was she so bad as all that?" that she might confess her own submission, “ Indeed she was, Will. I can't but tell and acknowledge that bitherto she had not the truth to you.” known what was good for her. She knew “ And he was nearly as bad as she.” that she would have to yield. She must “No, Will; no; do not say that of have known bow happy sle was to have an him.” opportunity of yielding; but yet, – yet, had " He was such a quarrelsome fellow. He there been any room for choice, she thought flew at me just because I said we had good she would have retrained from walking with bunting down in Norfolk.” ber cousin that evening. She had wept that “ We need not talk about all that, Will." afternoon because she had thought that he “ No;- of course not. It's all passed would not come again; and now that he and gone, I suppo:e." had come at the first moment that was pos

it's all passed and gone.

You sible for him, she was almost tempted to did not know my aunt Winterfield, or you wish him once more away.

would understand my first reasou for liking “I suppose you understand that when I him.” came up this morning I came merely to talk “ No,” said Will; “I never saw her.” about i usiness," said Belton, as soon Then they walked on together for a while they were off together.

without speaking, and Ciara was Leginning " It was very good of you to come at all to feel some relief, — some relief at first; 80 soon aster


but as the relief came, there came back to "I told these people in London that I her the dead, dull, feeling of heaviness at would have it all set led at once, and so I her heart which had oppressed her after his wanted to have it off my mind.”

visit in the morning: She had been right, * I don't know what I ought to say to you. and Mrs. Askerton had been wrong. He Of course I sball not want so much money had returned to her simply as her cousin, and as that."

now he was walking with her and talking to “ We won't talk about the money any and in this strain, to teach her that it was so. more to-day. I bate talking about money But of a sudden they came to a place where

" It is not the pleasantest subject in the two paths diverged, and he turned upon world.”

her and asked her quickly which path they "No," said be; “no indeed. I hate it, should take. Look, Clara,” he said, “ will - particularly between friends. So you you go up there with me ? ” It did not need have come to grief with your friends, the ihat she should look, as she knew that the Aylmers ? "

way indicated by him led up among the " I hope I haven't come to grief, — and rocks. the Aylmers, as a family, never were my “ I don't much care which way,” she said, friends. I'm obliged to contradict you, faintly. point by point, - you see.”.

“ Do you not ? But I do. I care very “ I don't like Captain Aylmer at all,” said much. Don't you remember where that Will, after a pause.

path goes ?” She had no answer to give " So I saw, Will; and I dare say he was to this. She remembered well, and rememnot very fond of you.”.

bered how he had protested that he would " Fond of me!' I didn't want him to be never go to the place again unless he could fond of me. I don't suppose be ever thought go there her accepted lover. And she much about me. I could not help thinking had asked herself sundry questions as to of him." - She had nothing to say to this, that protestation. Could it be that for her and therefore walked on silently by his sake he would abstain from visiting the side. “I suppose he has not any idea of prettiest spot on his estate, that he would coming back here again ?”

continue to regard the ground as ballowed "What; to Belcon ? No, I do not think because of his memories of her? “ Which he will come to Belton any more." way shall we go ? " be asked.

Will you


[ocr errors]

6 All


“I suppose it does not much signify,” “ You know that I love you." said she, trembling:

“Better than anybody in the world ?" “ But it does signify. It signifies very “Yes ; – better than anybody in the much to me. Will you go up to the rocks ?” world."

“ I am afraid we shall be late, if we stay “ And after all you will be — my wife? out long."

“Oh, Will, – how you question one !". “What matters how late ?

“You shall say it, and then it will all be come ?"

fair and honest." " I suppose so, — if you wish it, Will."

Say what? I'm sure I thought I had She had anticipated that the high rock said 'everything." was to be the altar at which the victim was Say that you mean to be my wife.” to be sacrificed; but now he would not I

suppose so, if you wish'it.” wait till he had taken her to the sacred “ Wish it !” said he, getting up from his spot. He had of course intended that he seat, and throwing, his hat into the bushes would there renew bis offer; but he had on one side; "wish it! I don't think you perceived that his offer had been renewed, have ever understood how I have wished it. and had, in fact, been accepted, during this Look here, Clara; I found when I got down little parley as to the pathway. There was to Norfolk that I couldn't live without you. hardly any necessity for further words. So Upon my word it is true. I don't suppose he must have thought; for, as quick as you'll believe me.”. ligbtning, he flung his arms around her, and “ I didn't think it could be so bad with kissed her again, as he had kissed her on you as that.” that other terrible occasion, - that occa- “ No ; — I don't suppose women ever do sion on which he had felt that he might believe. And I wouldn't have believed it hardly hope for pardon.

of myself. I hated myself for it. By George, * William, William," she said; “ how can I did. That is when I began to think it you serve me like that?" But he had a was all up with me.” full understanding as to his own privileges, up

with u! Oh, Will!" and was well aware that he was in his “ I had quite made up my mind to go to right now, as he had been before that he New Zealand. I had, indeed. I couldn't was trespassing egregiously.

have kept my hands off that man if we had Why are you so rough with me ? ” she been living in the same country. I should said.

have wrung his neck.” “ Clara, say that you love me."

“ Will, how can you talk so wickedly ? " “I will say nothing to you because you “ There's no understanding it till you are so rough."

have felt it. But never mind. It's all right They were now walking up slowly to- now; isn't it, Clara ? " wards the rocks. And as he had his arm “ If you think so. round her waist, he was contented for “ Think so! Oh, Clara. I am such a awhile to allow her to walk without speak- happy fellow. Do give me a kiss. You ing. But when they were on the summit have never given me one kiss yet.”. it was necessary for him that he should " What nonsense!

I didn't think you have a word from her of positive assurance. were such a baby." “ Clara, say that you love me."

· By George, but you shall ; “ Have I not always loved you, Will, shall never get home to tea to-night. My since almost the first moment that I saw own, own, own darling! Upon my word,

Clara, when I begin to think about it I “ But that won't do. You know that is shall be half mad." not fair. Come, Clara ; I've had a deal of I think you are quite that already." trouble, — and grief too; haven't I? You No, I'm not; - but I shall be when I'm should say a word to make up for it; - alone. What can I say to you, Clara, to that is, if you can say it."

make you understand how much I love " What can a word like that signify to you? You remember the song, · For Bonyou to-day? You have got everything." nie Annie Laurie, I'd lay me down and

“ Have I got you ?” Sill she paused. dee.'. Of course it is all norisense talking " I will have an answer. Have I got you ? of dying for a woman. What a man has to Are you now my own ? "

do is to live for her. But that is my feel“I suppose so, Will. Don't now. I will ing. I'm ready to give you my life. If not have it again. Does not that satisfy there was anything to do for you, I'd do it

if I could, whatever it was. Do

you under“ Tell me that you love me.". .

stand me?"

or you

you ?"



« VorigeDoorgaan »