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BELLA-DEMONIA.

l£Bv .Sxwjri Dolako.] : BOOK IV. (,*>'" CHAPTER I. 7 SOWING TRF WIND. H |When our atory reopens in the month of April, 1878, grwat changes—almost cataclysms— have Occurred in Europe. The treaty of SiMiSiefano has been signed, and tho Powers, waking to the enormity of its «ondickms, are preparing for the Congress of ißerKft. What might have been the end of the Turoo-Russian war of 1877-78 had the 3?fying Legion succeeded in reaching 'Oarnftn C'asha, it is impossible to surmise. The dispersal of that mysterious organisation seemed to mark the turning-poiut of the war. Oaman's last supplies reached him from Sofia in November, and on the 9th of December, driven to despair, he made bis heroic and historic sortie, whioh would have undoubtedly been successful, bad not treachery from within the bastions of Plevna apprised Todleben of bis intention, and enabled the general, at the cost of the (Siberian regiment, to force the surrender, with all the honors of war, of ttte greatest soldier that Turkey had l?nown since the days of Mahmoud the Reformer. New Year's day, 187S, oaw Gourko across the Etcopol Balkans, and on the Twelfth Night 1m sapped in Sofia. At the end of the month Adrianople was reached, and a British fleet entered the Bosphorus under a protest which England's greatest statesman utterly disregarded. In this way was Constantinople saved the ignominy of becoming a Russian wateringplace. Meanwhile, the actors of our drama had reassembled Vh London, where the last act was to bo played out. had recovered from the effects of his wound only after •months of patient nursing on the part of his soul's i&A. Lord Arlingford had returned to town, and frince Sch"cuto'ff, present ostensibly on diplomatic service, was shifting the strings oT tho Web he had draws found his victim from finger to finger as tire development of events required. Oar story reopens in the little drawing room of Mrs Bradley Dashton's cosy maisonnette in Mayfair, Two men are present, one pacing irritably np and down, the other comfortably ensconsced in pn armchair. The first is Viscount Arlingford, the second is that promising soldier in the army of financial martyrs, Major Homer Carteret Lord Arlingford comes suddenly to a full stop. " Why the deuce," says he, rt did you let Emily come back to England, least of all at this most critical juncture ? You know how impetuous Bhe is, and among tho ways out of our present difficulties you know very well toere is no choice."

"And yon know very Well, my dear Arlingford, that I can't control her any more than yon can. She appeared to come to the decision in an instant, and declined to allow me to argue the point. I've always warned yos that she would be dangerous if the spirit Bt> moved her, and yet you allowed the Brigps affair to get into print. Indeed, it waa sheer folly of you to make the running in that direction at all."

*• You put the case charmingly, my dear Carteret, only you teem to forget that at the time I went for tho little Briggs there was no other course open—indeed, that it is only within the last twenty-four hours that circumstances have permitted me to drop her out at all. Another trifle that you overlook ia that neither you nor I could have foreseen the extraordinary turn affairs have taken. I shall be able now to pay all my debts and start for Algiers as soon as possible." " That is, supposing Emily to bo tractable."

" You leave me to manage her ; she's not likely to give ttie much trouble. What a time she is! 1 shall be late. I promised to go and look at a horse ; they tell me he's a and up to my weight—can jump anything. Look here! I wish you'd go dowa to Rice's and tell him I can't come till to-morrow, but if his horse ia all he says he Is, I'll take him." " But I thought you said you were going to Algiers ?" remarked Major Carteret, with an interogative inflection. M Yes, so I am. But I fancy I can win a bit steeplechasing before I go. Peatherstone, who's ordered out to India, has offered me a couple of horses that have been running wonderfully well at some of the small meetings. He only wants three hundred and fifty pounds for 'em—dirt cheap. The three will do me very well; and when Igo I'll give you the lot, if you like, and you can hunt this year." "Thanks, old man," replied Carteret, rising. "I'll go and inspect my future property; but, egad ! I'm afraid my creditors will do most of the hunting." «' Oh 1 oil right. Say they're still mine. Goodbye. Be in time to-night." "Yes. Good-bye." And his lordship was left alone. Not for long, however, for a moment later Mrs Dash ton entered the room.

" Aren't yon glad to see me, Jack ?" she said, advancing with both hands outstretched. "I've so much to forgive you that—l daren't begin. Suppose I absolve you blind, without going into the details. Tell me, weren't you surprised to know that I was here?"

" Yes—deucedly surprised. And I wish you hadn't come." " How horrid of you to say that ! and it's such a long time since I've seen you, too, yon bad boy!" She had come up behind him and pub her hands on his shoulders as he sat. He disengaged himself a trifle impatiently. «• My dear girl," he said, " I wish you wouldn't do this. You know it bores me. You should'nt have come over; you'll upset all my plans. Why didn't you stop in Paris ?"j " Because I am fool enough to care for yon, and weak enough to believe you cared a little for me. But don't place too much relianoe on my folly. I tell you, Jack, that the day I make up my mind that you mean to throw me over, it will be a bad day for you 1" She bad come close to him, and her tone changed from one of intense earnestness to one of ugly cynicism. " I'm afraid you'll make me lose my temper. Don't! I'm not nice when I'm angry." " Now, look here, Emily ; this tragic tone is out of place, You know it's no use acting with me."

" When I do act with you, it will be forcibly enough to claim your attention; but before that happens, I want you to explain one or two things. I came here expecting that yon would be glad to see me. I didn't believe the stories I heard about an American girl; and now I want to know from you how much truth there wasin them. Thatyon would be unscrupulous enough to deceive I don't doubt, but that you would be fool enough to arouse my enmity I doubt very much. But, bah 1 I didn't corao to England to threaten. Are you going to marry the girl ?" "No!" Mrs Dashton heaved a sigh of relief. "Ah ! I waß snro of you," she said. •« Why do you try to make me jealous ? You ghouldn't do it, Jack— you shouldn't do it. Well, the trouble of the journey is well repaid, now that the suspense is over. Of course I knew it wasn't true; yet I couldn't rest until I was sure."

"Now, look here, Emily," exclaimed Arlingford, rising to his feet;]" let us put an end to this. I'm going back to my wife." " What! Y on're not in earnest ?" ««I am—perfectly." " Very well! so am I. You shant do it.'" " Don't talk nonsense, but listen to me. An aunt of my wife's has left her her fortune and advised her to make friends with me. You don't suppose I am going to chuok away such an opportunity—especially as everything is as bad as.it can be at home ? My agent can't get me a penny. Now make up your mind to accept the situation. I'll go to Paris as soon as I can; meanwhile, I'll Bee you get all the money you want " i "Do you suppose," broke in the woman indignantly, " that I am the kind of woman to be ordered about ?—to be a pensioner on 'your wift's bounty. Undeceive yourself 1 It'a your turn to listen to me. I would have endured any privation for you and with you —for love. That is over; you inako it a business transaction. Very well; you must accept my terms. I have disgraced myself long enough for you. You must marry me." "Don't be a fool," was the brutal response. " One must draw the line some- ' where, and I couldn't fly in the face of the ; world as far as that. I have a few friends I ;; must consider, and "

"So ! I am not good mtft&gh for you—you, who cannot cater a decent house in the sharper—the thief ! Do vou foVget I know how you ruined GodAfcVd?" " I don't care a what you knowi I was willing to take care of you \ yotl refuse help. Soit! A woman Who lets ft married man mtke love to her always gets the worst of it in the long rttn. lam g6ing to be'eome respectable, and !n '£V6 years 'no one will remember that 1 was ever anything else. You might have known, as I didn't ask you to come, that 1 didn't stmt you " He was cut short by the entrance of a, servant ff.'oh a note. Mrs Dashto'ii tore it open and glanced through it, visibly excited. Hastily writing a few words at her escritoire, she handed the answer to the servant, who left the room. Mrs Dashton appeared to have reoovoled all her composure. " I thought we knew each other pretty woll, v ' she said, "but it that we are both destined to make discoveries. Your new fad for respeotabiltty is a little startling. My determination may be equally astonishing'. I simply decline to take the place you assign to me." *' My dear Emily, the great charm about you was that you were so thoroughly sensible. You are not like yourself to-day. I've told yon what I mean to do.' "In other words, you defy me. Now I'll tell yon what I moan to do. I can't make you marry me, but you certainly shan't marry anybody else. I have helped you in your dirty work, i have done things for your sake that no money in the world would have induced me to do, and if you suppose that you can calmly say ' Good-bye, I've no further use for you,' and expect that that is the end, you are vastly mistaken. So your idea of a sensible woman—such as you are good enough to call me—is one who is always ready to subscribe to your pleasure or income as necessity demands ? So long as her seme is used for your benefit, she is charming, but you are always surprised when she exerts it in tor own behalf. I will be sensible, and mind you don't regret it. So lam to wander away an outcast— diclassie —whilst you become a respectable member ot society ? Charming!" . . As she spoke, Lord Arlingford had risen, and, taking his hat and cano, had moved to the door. Seeing him on the point of departure, she ran to him and flung her arms about him.

"Oh, Jack, Jack," she cried, "don't go like that! I was only desperate. Say you did not mean what you said. You don't really mean to throw me over, after all your promises ?" "I've said all Ijhave to say," answered the man roughly. " Let me go. You know ' scenes' bore me. Let me go, I say !" He flung her from him, and went out. Her foot catching on some piece of furniture, she fell heavily to the ground. For a moment she lay as if dazed, then a great sob escaped her, and with difficulty she rose and staggered to her writing table. Her eyes fell upon the note that lay where she had left it.

" Ah, Jack," she said, aloud, "if you had known who was waiting an answer to this letter, you would have been more—more discreet."

She touched a bell, and the next moment Cantain Aubyn Goddard entered the room.

"lam glad you are here," she said, recovering herßelf aa she went to meet bim. " You have been very kind to me—much kinder than I deserve, for until this moment I had no intention of repaying you." " l?oor old lady !" answered Goddard, soothingly. " Why, how upset you are ! What has happened ? Can Ido anything to help you ?" "Always the Eame kindly sympathy, Aubyn. How good you are ! I see by this note you came over to get a confession from Jack Arlingford. You want my help. You value this vindication very much, do you not?"

11 Of course I do. Until his confession is obtained, there may be those who doubt me ; and, more than the opinion of all, there is one whose faith in me must be justified. There is to be a meeting tcnight at Briggs's to endeavor to bring it about, and you can help it, I know. You've known me for years, old girl, and you know I was innocent, don't you ?" " More ! I will prove it. But you must go now, for I expect a visitor. Give me the address of your friend where the explanation is to take place, and you shall have proofall the proof you want. And don't judge me too harshly for my share in the matter ; I have had but one excuse—l did it for him. And just now he struck mo down !—Oh ! " " He struck you ! " " Yes."

"My God ! What a brute !" " Never mind now ; you must go. I—l am engaged. But we shall meet to-night." Goddard left her. When she was alone, she moved once more to her desk, and opening a looked drawer, took from it an envelope, at which she gazed for a few moments motionless.

Then hurriedly she tore it open and took from it a playing-card. It was the king of clubs. (To be continued.)

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890907.2.37.10

Bibliographic details

BELLA-DEMONIA., Issue 8006, 7 September 1889, Supplement

Word Count
2,358

BELLA-DEMONIA. Issue 8006, 7 September 1889, Supplement

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