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{Coninutd.) ' ‘ Fancy I had rather the best of that little game,’ thought Captain Arthur, as he took out his cigar case. ‘ Not pay any attention to Miss Casterlon! Thank you, Mf Francis Day; you shall not find the course so easy to walk over, if I can help it ;’ and the Captain took put his silver fusee box and struck a light, with a vindictive determination to thwart his; brother, come what

might. Alas for poor Georgie! She was very young and very childish, and it was the old, old story. Two months flew by on silver wings. Captain Day had the field all to himself, and he made the most of his opportunities. Georgie. innocently wondered how it was that, go where she would, he always contrived to meet or follow her in her walks. It was always so naturally done that she never suspected how very carefully it was planned, or that all her goings out and comings in were quite familiar to him.

One thing however Captain Day had not bargained for; and, had anyone suggested the idea to him, he would have repudiated it with scorn-—he had not bargained for falling in love himself. Nevertheless two months’almost daily intercourse told upon him; Georgie’s fresh young beauty and sweetness won a great deal more than admiration from him, and he cared a good deal more for her than he would have confessed to himself—more than his easy graceful selfishness would care to think of seriously. At last they were engaged for better or worse—-so far as anything could be called an engagement which was neither known nor sanctioned by the powers that were. On the last evening of this memorable visit they stood together in the beech avenue of the Hall. Her hand was in his ; her sweet eyes raised to his in mute entreaty.

‘ Not even a letter, Arthur ?’ said she.

‘ My pet, how can I write to you without its being found out? And then just think of the consequences. If Frank knew of our engagement, he would be furious, and f that would ruin everything.’ ‘ But,’ hesitated Gebrgie, _* how can his being vexed make any difference to you ?’ ‘ Because he is rich and I am poor; and he holds the purse strings,’ said the Captain bitterly; he might have added that to his half-brother he was likewise indebted for his very handsome allowance and sundry other small favors, the continuance of which he did not choose to risk at the present moment.

* Perhaps he would help us as he is so rich ?’ suggested Georgie, timidly. ‘ Not he; besides, I won’t ask him. Georgie darling, we must just wait and hope for something to turn up; and, my pet, our engagement must be a secret between ourselves.’ ‘ If I might only tell mamma 1’ pleaded Georgie. ‘No, no, Georgie. No one must know. My darling, is it not the sweeter to you that no one knows or meddles with our happiness?’ And he took the fair face between his hands and kissed it passionately. ‘ It seems so like deceit,’ sighed she, wistfully. And then Captain Day set to work to explain away her scruples. It was not very difficult. Georgie’s faith and trust in her lover were boundless, and it never entered her head to question

the wisdom or propriety of anything he might wish; so before his specious reasonings her hesitation and doubt soon vanished, and she promised all he asked —not quite blindly perhaps, but with all the trust and confidence of a fearless, guileless love. When the time came they parted with one long, mute caress, and Georgie, her lips tremulous, her sweet eyes full of tears, turned quickly homewards. Captain Day stood under the beeches ? till the slight dark figure vanished, and then he too strolled homewards, considerably perturbed in his mind. ..He did love Georgie, after his own fashion —he did honestly mean to be married - . to her some day; but it was not in him to make any effort to shorten that time, and things just now were not very pro-? pitious for any scheme of matrimony. J- -> ‘ Little darling,’ thought he—‘what a sweet wife she will make! It’s a confounded shame we can’t be married now—and a precious long time it will be before we shall. I’ve half a mind to tell Frank—he might help us per- - haps. No; I won’t. I’m certain he is rather touched himself; so of course he would do nothing. Hang it all, I wish I had not got into such a cornfounded mess !’

Next morning a bouquet of exquisite flowers was left at the Vicarage for Miss' Casterton —roses of all kinds, from the richest damask to the delicate subtlescented Provence. As Georgie stood ; at the window looking at them and pondering the message of farewell and. secrecy they conveyed, the Starr Hills carriage dashed past; she caught a glimpse of a handsome face, a pair of blue eyes glanced eagerly out, a hand. was waved to her, and that was the last' Georgie Casterton saw of Captain Day for a long time. * # # * It was the fifth of November, a foggy, wet, miserable afternoon ; but there was a glorious fire in the old school-room at the Vicarage. Esther Casterton sat on the hearth-rng in front of it, reading the newspaper; Georgie" was at the table painting. A sort of frame stood before her, on which yrerp arranged a wild tangle of the small tree ivy, sprays of brambles tinted red by ; ; v the frost, a few scraps of moss, and a qnantity of the bright purple-black feathers of the moor-fowl. She was copying them with rare delicacy and skill. ■' ; , : r ; ” ‘lwish I had a few blackberries, 1 said she presently. *We could not find any -this. jM^rn- I\ . ing,’ returned Esther, looking np frdnf " her paper. ‘lt is too late for them;can’t you manage without them,?’. . . ‘Yesj t‘think! can,’ Said Gepr&iei giving a few bright 'touchesl t6’ ; the brambles. ■ = v -- i;co

‘ jJp. will give you for that. picture Georgie r ?’ - ;r *1 don’rknovr^^opourid^ 1 -‘ It’s not hair enough—why, it is exquisitively done 1- I krid# Mr ? Dajr ‘ would get you twice as~ much, if you would lef him. Why don’t you accept his offer; And allow him to dispose of your paintings for, you in. London ?! . ‘ I like to 'manage rfiy own jdfairs,. dear,’ ; laughed. Georgfe. ; } Resides, it' was he who introduced ' me” to this dealer. He took a great, deal of. trouble at first; and of course I cannot trouble him always witlimjK cofieerUs.’ t. ‘Of course hot, dryly; then, after a short Georgie, do you remember that party at Starr Hills just two years ago, and how you cried over the ■ alpaca • dress ? You would be able to appear got up regard* less of expense now/ ‘ Not quite/ returned Georgie, smiling; We are always so poor, and the .i money is so wanted for things it 1 is hard to be without, that I don’t think I should be any more gorgeously arrayed. than'-I was then.’ She sighed -,a Utfle, for the troubles of poverty came home very keenly to her, and she knew, though Esther did not, that, half at ~ least of her poor little earnings went into the family exchequer. . She would / have cared-nothing for aU -th© lihle l trials and stings of her daily life bad ’• she nothing else to bear ; but for eighteen months she had never seen nor heard a word of Captain Day, and the blank silence was a cruel hardship., •- The constant wearing uncertainty had / brought an anxious look on to the fair young face, as of one waiting and’. watching continually, and the lovely eyes looked sweeter, sadder, and more wistful than ever. :;

Presently Esther put down her paper and sauntered to the window, gazing disconsolately out at the fog and rain.. * Oh dear, Georgie, there he is again, coming in at the gate 1’ exclaimed she, abruptly, in a few minutes. * Who ?’ asked Georgie, absently, her thoughts far away with the Captain of the 6th Fusiliers, her fingers busy with the complicated shades of a scrap of laded moss.

‘ Who ? As if you didn’t know V retorted Esther increduously. “Mr Francis Day makes it sufficiently clear who it is that he comes to see in this house !’ ‘What do you mean, Esther? said Georgie, aroused. ‘ Mean. Oh, nothing particular 1’ returned Esther, dryly. No doubt he takes an immense interest in papa’s pet grievances against the churchwardens, and comes to condole with him. No doubt it is very entertaining to settle with the mater about the old women’s coals and blankets two or three times a week. My entertaining conversation of course counts for nothing; in fact, I have ceased to waste my eloquence upon him, since I found out that Miss Georgie Casterton’s silence was more appreciated than all my wit and - wisdom.’ Georgie flushed painfully. ‘What nonsense you talk, Esther! When you know how kind he has been about the church restoration and what trouble he has taken about my . drawings, it is absurd of you to invent reasons to account for such a simple thing as his coming here sometimes.^ ‘ Sometimes ’!’ echoed satiri- , cally.’ Georgie thrust her brush into a pool of neutral-tint and stirred it round; and , round half angrily. Esther, with a shrewd glance at the crimson face and emphatic shrug of her shoulders, betook herself to her newspaper again and began to study the marriage-list ‘ Why, good gracious, Georgia,* exclaimed she, in a few minutes, ‘his brother is married. What ?’ said Georgie, sharply. ‘He is, really! Just listen. “On - the 4th iast., at St. Feta's Chuck;

Collingwood, by the Rev. G. Inn a n, Arthur Day, Esq., Capt. 6th Fusiliers, to Emilie Alice, only child of Hugh Forest, of Collingwood Manor, Yorkshire,. Esq.” She paused almost incredulously. There was a dead siiehce in the room ; the clock ticked with startling distinctness; Esther, staring _at the paper in her surprise, never noticed her sister. ‘I am -surprised ! Isn't it strange Mr Day never told us ? The 6th is his brother's regiment, I know, so it cannot be a mistake. I shall go and ask him what it,all means. Here is the paper lor you; ’ and, throwing it on to the table, she left the room without even glancing round. - • Georgie dropped into a seat, stunned, turned' 1 to stone. She uttered no ex".clamation, gave no sign that she had heard what had just been read. She sat perfectly still, grasping the rail of her chair fast' with both hands, and staring with wide-open startled oyes out of the window.' {To fie continued.)

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Bibliographic details

GEORGIE'S LOVERS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 363, 6 June 1881

Word Count

GEORGIE'S LOVERS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 363, 6 June 1881

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