In Four Chapters.
Clutha Leader, Volume XVII, Issue 848, 17 October 1890, Page 7
In Four Chapters.
TS i-' CHAPTER lll;— Continued. Meanwhile/- 1 Lady Hurlingham, b6-fsidel.herself -with grief, and terror, the iady;ofc fashion mergedjfpr the; moment into the mother,had descended from her) carriage, her: face pale and haggard, and hurried with Vere to the seat A 'where 'the stranger reclined. It was «6 time for ceremony or cl ass distinc, .tion* With a gesture motherly and natural, as if she had been moulded of—meaner clay, she snatched little liViolefc from the arms still rhechanically holding ..her, with a. great gush of thankfulness to find that, with the exception of the 'fright, not one single hair of that golden head had been injured; y y YY By tKistitne thecrowd had sufficiently from the threatened realisattonof sudden death, and, with regained wit, Sufficient society veneer to murmur the usual polite-condolences and congratulations to .the now, elated mother. Still the rescuer/sat,- hisjface buried in his hands, a whirling, maddening pain in his head, and a riiist before his eyes as if the world had suddenly lost its sunshine. Vere, with tears in her eyes and a tremble in her voice, pushed hei;- .way through the too sympathetic crush and laid her hand gently oh the sufferer's arm. 'I am afraid you are hurt/ slje sstid.' Can Ido anything for you V Winchester, for he. it was, looked up vaguely, the words coming; to his ears like the roar oft h,p. sea singing in a dream, a dream wliich was not all from the,, land, of, visions. He wondered dreamily where he had heard that voice before: With an effort/ lie looked up again. For the; first time in five years their eyes met iri, the full light of day. She. knew, him now, recognised him in a moment. But it was scarcely the same Winchester who had restored her lost ornament -a fortnight ago. The old shabby raiment, had disappeared, giving place to a neat suit, such as no gentleman had been ashamed to wear. Fourteen days' steady work, inspired by a worthy object, had met an equal reward. It was no longer Winchester the outcast that Vere was addressing, but Winchester the gentleman, ancl in his heart he rejoiced that it was so. For a moment they were no longer the centre of a glittering host of fashion; their thoughts together had gone back to the vanished past, as they looked into each other's eyes, neither daring to trust to words. Jack,' said Vere at length Jack, is it really you V 1 Yes, clear, it is 1/ Winchester responded faintly. 'You did riot expect to meet me like this if you ever expected to meet me at all.' Do you think I forget, as as some people do? You did not always judge me so harshly. How could we meet better how could I feel more proud of you than I do at this moment V Gradually the crowd fell back. There was not much mischief done after all nothing that a clothes-brush and a little warm water would not rectify. Besides, Miss Dene seemed to know the stranger, and from one or two expressions, would apparently prefer to be left alone. Winchester's answering smile had no trace of its accustomed bitterness. After all, there was something in the soft music of Vere's tones, a charm in the reckless abandonment of self which fell upon his troubled heart like balm in Gilead. There was something sweet also in the consciousness that he had played the man so recently in her sight, under the' very eyes whose brightness alone he had only valued. There was a stimulant worth all the tonics in the pharmacopoeia. He would have spoken again, but he was suffering still frpm a great rush of pain and giddiness, as if the whole universe was/ slipping Into space. Directly after, the feeling passed away, and he was himself: once more. By this time Lady.Hurlingham had driven away, while some one, more thoughtful than the rest, had remained to place his carriage at Winchester's disposal. This gentleman is a friend of yours, Miss /Dene? he asked. Allow me to suggest that your; groom takes your horse, and that you drive likewise You will pardon /my sister's apparent heedlessness, f but you see J Violet is an onlyychild, and- Vere looked gratefully into Lord Bearliavoh's graye, handsome face-, and extended her hand in an impulse of gratitude. The meeting she had so much dreaded was made sniooth and pleasailt /by hi^ kindly, courtesy. 'I might have expected this from you/ she answered warmly. Believe me, I am deeply obliged. Mr Winis not only a friend, but a relation.' Lord Bearhaven gave Jack a handgrip which- said -more than the most carefully chosen words. But what an effortYthis-, magnanimity cost him, only Vere, who saw that he had heard everything, alone could tell. 'I- am forgiven, then f asked Winchester, as they .AxbypS along Oxford street; Y Well, -It is worth playing the poor part I have played to-day to hear that.—^Verej Vfere, wh at a sorry sel fopiniated fool 1 bave been Do you know that for the last week I have been up my courage to the i
sticking-poin.t I But whenever I found myself/near you, my pluck failed.' You do not deserve to be spoken to/ Vei'e replied, her cheeks aflame, her eyes laden with unshed tears, though the thrilling tenderness of her voice robbed the words of their sting. 'How dare, you venture to treat me as if I should be ashamed of my old friends V
Up to this point Winchester had scarcely dared, to analyse his sensations. Now that all the impenetrable barriers of restraint were broken down between them, he found himself talking in the old familiar strain, and wondering if the last five years Svas merely a phantasm of, his own creation.
'And Chris/ Vere ventured at length, though the question' had long been trembling on her tongue, 'do you eyer hear anything pf him V
Winchester told her everything, disguising nothing except the part of good Samaritan he himself ha<jl playecT towards the unfortunate. Ash/tb'u.j /It must have been an interesting-conversation, for Vere's face as she listened grew; yery soft and, tender, her eyps sweet and luminous. When at length the end of Arlington street vvas reached, Winchester stopped the coachman, and insisted upon alighting, a step which Vere vehemently opposed.
'You are coming home with me/ she 1 said. 'Have you any idea who you will find waiting there to welcome you V
Not the slightest unless you have persuaded but that is impossible. Still, you must have a chaperon of some sort. Is it possible that you have our clear old Aunt Lucy at Arlington street?
Not only possible, but an actual fact. Come; you cannot refuse now.'
Winchesi ef hesitated for a moment, then, with a sudden impulse, complied. Of all his relations, the Aunt Lucy in question was the only one who kept a green spot in his recollections. A few moments later he passed a welcome guest through the very portals outside which so short a time before he stood a wretched outcast and useless member of society.
Two hours later, when he descended the steps again, with a bright eagpr look of exultation on his face, a servant loitering in the hall saw ancl wondered if it was the same man whom his mistress had brought home so recently. He lingered for a moment for a few parting words with Vere. So that is settled,' he said and if you should feel afraid 'Afraid I' she echoed scornfully. I sha'l not be afraid.' 'I do not think you will. Now, remember you have promised. And above all things, Lord Bearhaven must know everything.' 1 promise,' she answered. 'If I could only see Chris But you can't clo anything of the kind for the present, at least. You must have perfect faith in me.' I have/ Vere replied, looking into his glowing eyes. Had I not always V