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THE LADY MAYORESS

By Dale Cbavix

{AfjtW of 'By Private Treaty,* 'The Sqttire's Bide,' 'One in Command,' **a» Camp Kettle,' 'Peggy Decide*.* etc.]

A %ht Jaogh rippled out on the waim auramer air, and the half-dozen or so men ■who were grouped in the entrance of the marquee ceased their talk and turned at the sound. A dainty figure in the- whitest and softest of gowns came into view, and with a gallant and fatherly air the Lord Mayor detached himself from the throng and advanced to meet the youngest and fairest guest that his garden party could boast of. Together they turned and walked across the lawn. A" striking couple they made—the lissom, graceful figure of tho girl, hex face bright and animated ; the man tail and grey-haired and dignified, with clear-cut, aristocratic features. A perfect picture was the girl, and perhaps it was the consciousness that- of the lialf-dozen pairs of admiring eyes that watched their approach one pair of steadfast grey ones were more ardent- than th? rest gave aditionai grave to her carriage, and charm to her smile. The two were within hulf a score yards of the marquee when out of its coo) depths a figure ap]'«ared. A red, flushed face pet-red over the shoulders ol the men. A thick, heavy •voice broke the silence, and there wa's studied insolence and contempt in the. ton**. "Gad: It's that girl of Smith's! What's Sir Clitford thinfemg about? She's going strong, eh'.' Smith, the mechanic, or something of that kind he was, you know. That's the worst oi these garden parties. One has to meet such a mix«d lot, you know. But the Lord Mayor reedn't " A etvif; flush passed over the girl's features at the words, which were, ['lain to her ears. It was gone in a moment. ?he carried her head a- little higher, and ker step was firmer. There was a proud BpaTkle in her eyes. Sir Clifford looked annoyed, and the group of men stirred uneasily. It was Ralph Dacre who put a j stop to the other's babbling. i "You're keen on rouofi, aren't you. j Martindale?" he said, talcing the mart by j the arm. "Sir Clifford has just been tell- , ing me that he has got a new variety. | C'onie and pass your opinion upon it.'' | Quietly but firmly he led Ms. uncertain j lentsteps away fr:>tn the party. Ihe j iuick glance of gratitude which the girl j gave him was not lest upon Dacre. It j reacted in his tones r.&, planting Martin* I Hale in a remote corner oi the grounds, I he sruflir bade him in future nut to make ! I'limse 1 !" a. bigger fool than Nature- had j created him. Then ho left the angry but j middled man to make what ho could of I the remark, and rejoined the others on tb.o I lawn. But the incident had left him moody,! snd though he- mixed with the gay, welidrwsed throng, not for a while could he | trust- himself to venture near the graceful j figure in white, who seemed to be holding b littlo court of her own. It was a trivial j thing, of course, ;.; he kept telling himSfelf as ha paced up and down ; but there ' were reasons why the .ill-natured remark j ■ nnoyed him deeply. Savagely he- cursed j Martindale under his breath. " Dacre had I ventured to hold great hopes of what j wight result from the Lord Mayor's garden | party. A man who "usually knew his own | mind and went, straight ahead for what hj» w?,nted, his plans seemed for the moment spoilt. He had seen how the words had hurt tha girl. How was he to know whether she would be in the mood to hear what he had to say? Then, even whilst he was pacing to and fro, growing momentarily gloomier, he caught a glance from her. It was not to be resisted. In•eed, few could for long withstand the jpei! of that charming face and bright laughter. In a moment more he was one ci the group attendant upon her, his dark mood gone, and in its place a growing hepe. Presently there came a chance of a «n.u«t word with her. With infinite tact he drew her away from the others, and led down the path towards the house. "■ Fhall wo cit a moment where it is ceo!?" lie threw open wide the Freiu hj. | window of the library. She nodded i brightly, and passad through into thej tool, empty room. lie took a seat near j her. For a spa.ee they sat in silence, I watching the distant figures moving on the lawn. Then site turned to him in laughing tones of protest: ' You'r %er\ quit Air Dacro" i" Im tb nl ing in anweud e ie* Iv O H t «mi'i wa b mhiiig 4ffaiie of bi e 1 Im mnv fm intiud ji" oi \ i r tnouiji* \r a all Dom tic affa r t; it harpen« Puit-h don tt Di t ,3 1 e tnl 1 istiH tot In hnl ti en with i. prett\ gtiimce \h tt<ti hj iim nterest von. AA ith ai ii it Tioel rts i,int on it f a ted hen tif igm and v, hj luu tr| ii hj r brown e t« turnel to n hi n Men a he i a n,nt m t.l/1 th 'r l»ip* l Milth to hr tti l! <>u Ilv she ti ii d her nei<\ H pu' e rit | i wh t lie ha 1 i ad i

Ralph kant toward? her. " Ihavesomethi n 5 T want to say to you." IT is voire was low ; th? firm tones thrilled her. >hc did not move, but the warm color ;;irr.p and wont on h°r cheeks. " Yo:i must know what it. is," ho went rn. " Yr.u cannot but hare understood. Jeannk." His voice was very low now ; he was very near to her. " 1 lore yen! jeannk '.'' She was very stiil, her het.d drooping, her face still averted. IU could not t€ll how she> was taking his declaration. " Jeannic," he- said, "may I hope'" ''Oh!" The low cry cut short his irord;. A troubled lace turned to his. Th« brown ejvs were swimming. " The daughter of Smith, the mechanic?"

"Che qi:«.-iJo?i cm? in a. low, tremh'ing whisper. It revealed to Ralph in a flash how deeply she had been wounded by the attempt u< slight that strong, quiet man. her father, and herself through him. He Wared with, inward anger against Martindale. But even while he was seeking -trords there was a change in her attitude. She lifted her head proudly. Her eyes met his steadily, and in her gaze Ralph retd something* of pride, something of a challenge. He'kit gladdened, yet humble. It was'in *h<? latter mood he ."-poke again. " Jh« daughter of John Smith, the »-.wrkani<\ is to me the dearest nv.d sv.-eetest- creature ni the world." There was deep earne-tness in his that Li ought a glad light to hex eyes. "There :« nothing I want so ranch as to know that r'l-- cares for me a little—ever so little." Jj<« pleaded. Her 'ace was averted again, but something in her attitude cave him courage. ,U« i«k her hand. ■Sh« mr.de no resistance. "If T could do something to convince you of my love." The little plover! hand irsting in"his trembled. He held it firmly, aasuringlv. "Some word, some action, fom* deed." The thought took pos>ossion o f him. and hj« cried: " Put ino to the test. Give me a task. Nothing will be too hard if only I may win you." There was a pause. Tier hand tightened in his grasp. Slowly sho turned and faced him.' There was tenderness yet resolution in her glance. "Tou have given me great gladness, ihr aaid. simply, and his heart boat high ni V r words. " " Y-e.s, since you ask it, I ■wrt .ti~e veu a. task—l fear a hard on?." H» preyed her hand. "My father." she went on, "is more to mo than anyone .in the world." He made a motion of protest. "Yes," she said, understanding hint " even more than tou —up to now. He, is the o'olv parent I have kr.own. and ho has b«n 30 good and gentle. Be has done jnnre for his native city than any other inan for generations, yet because lie hae raised himself fr»m the ranks he. has teen gcernsdj slighted, maligned by your partv. You have great influence with them. Oh, Jrt#, I ks»ir vou havK When ho is Lord Marar, I wilt—you may *' She stopped prottily, btr face a rosy red. "Ye»," h* said, scarcely daring to belief wh»t her words meant. With radiant looks she held out her i*nd. Ho caught it. Their eyes met, and the* understood. Each drank gladness and happiness

"I accept the task," he eaid. "It shall be done, and then " Stooping, he kissed the two .little hands.

A little later they passed out on to the lawn again. But its. he swung open the window, Dacre, exultant, light-hearted with happiness, paused, and said: "There may be, you know, another way for you to become Ladv Mayoress."

And there was r, cparkle in her eye, as, divining his meaning, in iiko spirit answered: "You are a conceited boy. Tl'k>v dropped hands abruptly and both felt conscious as they stepped out almost into the arms of a stout, jolly-iooking man who had hist turned the comer of the house. Dacre greeted his partner with some awkwardness of manner, and Jeanme felt absurdly hot as the newcomer's keen •>azc swept them both. But Saville was a man not easily taken at a disadvantage, and with a breezy nod and a commonplace rematk or two he passed on, much to trior relief. They would have been less inclined for •self-conLH-atulation over the incident had thev seen the amrs-e-d look on his features as presently he turned and watched them ioin the others. "So that's the little game," he soliloquised ah-ud. ""Might hr.ve guessed n. Recurs tome they've'fixed it up all rignt. Thev :.'ouldn't do better, it \ou ask me. She's a line girl. No end of spirit. But there'll lie trouble in the camp, if 1 know anything.'' It was a shrewd guess. There was trouble in the camp, and Dacre began hi experience it- the moment he took Heps. towards the fullilnunt of the task he had , accepted from his lady-love. Party spirit- j lati umrsuailv high in the city, and tor; liiis .Teniuim's father was indirectly re- . sponsible. Ere he had developed fi'oin a-j humble, unknown mechanic to ho beadj a.id directing spirit- of the great engineer- | works tha; spread along the river j bank, under the very walls of the Cat'ne- j oral itself, trm Professionals bad had im- j disputed control of the city's .atl'airs. as!

perhaps befitted a cathedral city, where , hitherto industry ]iad not lifted its grimy < head. With the growth of the engineer- | ing works, an Industrial party had come j into being—a party which claimed Smith j as. its leader, and yearly was challenging j more keenly the supremacy of the other. ! There was deep resentment °f tins, and j although a leader on his own side, and ; its rising hope. Dacre was amazed at tlm ; extent of the prejudice and the unreason- j ing, stubborn pride which his efforts fori the first, time fairly bared. It was a ! strongly-argued appeal he made to tivat; with the enemy while yet lie was. at ill" j gate, ero ho grew to full sheriff!:, j Savillc. having a shrewd suspicion how : matters stood with his young and brainy; p.'irtiK'i', supported him whol-Mirai !■ dly. ( The cni:vtecu< hut undecided Sir Clifford; thought that there was something ui the . propositi, and tlie party sheep wavmed. I The" stumbling-block 'was .Martindale. i Bouniily he vowed that, be was deal ; against, the affair altogether. He was ; not for honoring that man Smith. Vi lia-t- - the party had' it should hold, and he j bluntly intimated that- ho himself expected j the partv to nominate him for office in : November. liis brusque decisive.*fs ; seemed likely to cairy witli him t'm .uc.-o-j tiding .di-'H-p He saw it. and made Mm. most of his strength. Ralph saw quickly: how the matter would shape. It was to. fie a, personal affair—a conrest- b~t-.Tc.-m \ two men, bo'h of whom wore strong and ' could be stubborn, one playing for ofiice. . and leadership of the party, the ether ! Dacre smiled, as he thought- it ever. On ; the whole, be was inclined to think his: incentive was the stronger. ' The firrht in the inner circle went mi ■ all cummer. While Dacre worked and \ took deep thought, Martindale talked and '■■ boasted. And something of his boastings ; reached gentle cars, with the result \'»v.i \ Ralph found his lady-love, when he called ; upon her one day. with a suspicion of I moisture in her eyes, and in a very tender j mocd. j Hesitatingly she alluded to his task. ' "I want to Veleaso you liom it. .Ralph,"; she said, blushing prettily. They had ; cot a long way beyond t'oimal converse I by this time. i •'Why?" he =.iid, abittptly. " Because, oh, beer, use " She dared I not tell hitn tier fears that Martindale j would pruve the stronger. It would seem I .'*<- though, she were- kinking in confidence. I " Because—oh, it was wicked of me to ask : it. I was only thinking ol father, not oil the trouble I was giving you. Besides, it j will injure you with your party. They '- won't like- it, and I don't think father! ictld hi it uthu I 1 dph liu, d i hj \ i. In th | ]n \ I'll l imp Ik t- ud i thin., | ibt it T ini f ith t 11 1 lie \ Imif> | 1 i 1 d tid 1 nhj t i nd hu 1 ge tt > i i ith i i u d him 'Ni he tail dt i~n '\ J cmm aitqu ri lie In t! n or tli til nl Im! t, iii. I tcti n with it \nd Jin i jii til win, Hr cv d n d <=h ilfild m Ivz t M ]i d in iat u hi I tin lli i i id \ in U i n Vt p'e 1 u 1 p ill i* tl \ [ i i It ua hj nt tun ml 1 I'll t the iii c U ati hi i t pi o i i I \ cut it- m i r ted nl a I ' — i 11 n i ' i hj im i/* n i hit In )iit i i more nd n i mbila i th 1 -\ dt i in net I i ten i II I I l him U <in 1 i t i <tt it t i i J " i hi ti t i ti it « t 1 t "on ll tmiip r , ' il ml i Ma t i 1 lid >ln im li I i 1 i li t in e (1, ( aid a 1 ill i a fli Mil a 1 nriu fi| r n i It i 1 in pot n i id 1 ! t t i id il 1 ■*-1\ lib noi i th n i ' i _, hi his | i ici had j it tii _i m mi I 1 n D light i 1 i i e Inn t in mqu i | t\ n 1 i ul 1 tn 1 il m md ii \ t ' i i rf bur t out on j Di i i ' 1 r ' e' ci on | Y hj 1 ( mil n„n ,11 ; | hj i l 1 i ar ti fi 1u in \e | ,i i II i rll titini low f r t" ml i. in b <i i \ II i i c' id th 1 l ' i ti ini I i whi hj th \ o \ei nz'' n ' it, in tie t tbli he ai ' A d a 'll r i k At ntmd d A ill i 1 ii * ci i rd Ion? ( hj i \ ' t ii i \ | \\ In i \ t 1 ml T m n f on hj i 1 1 l n 1 e ill be o I n it tl\ i d ui it T fouldnt go 11"! i i | Ralpn t\ n d iam TT wi , m - t ii u r Oh Ton!' hj ">. | jbn \ oil! and be wont bo I il 1 it It the r hei uiv | in ill ' I i 1 lii 1 nijit nt b m j (he l v i 1 ii oi lb s \ t \ mil to I lira nil t i aI Hi 1 Mil Ah t t \i ii imn 1 c~aiel Q a^ille it ii ti ion ic shj onic ti ii a n uit i b r un, 7 i tnci ]ii 11 li i a n atieiv with nn dulne.-s. ami "xplaiu what- in the world i mi are driving at.' "It's rptiti- simp!" "--ealmiy. " Martindale wriu'i- 1 e at t'ie council meeting, and lacking a, leader I'm- sheep will all. or cnoueh "f iliem. go my way." •■ And why won't he be there?"— rpiiekly. '■ P,riM!i--v iii-'ll li-- d.-tained on business. ' Savillc gazed at the other keenly, but :mt a. mns'tTe of Dacn's face moved. "He Mon't if he knows it/' replied the elder man.

"ThatV. tin nnirit of the whole thing, lie won't know'it--,.t least not until it is too late And curiously enough, as I 'nave just hinted, you will be "detained with him."

"The deuce I shall. 1 didn't know it," mod the n titer, genuinely surprised. "What little game arc you up to? Am I to ;et him out ot the way?" Ralph nodded. He was laughing now. "Well, of all the cool : "I say, this is prett-v thick, von know. Stakes must be high.'" "As a melter of fact, they are. Hehas chosen to (jot in my way with his absurd ideas of"leadership, arid he's got to move nsid*."

" Jnst eo" —musingly, and 3ookin<_' up nt the exiling. '• And. brides, she's a ripping fi:io girl. Shall w« congratulate vou yet?"

Ralph blushed. "Lock here. Saville" —tartly. Then he hushed, as the broad pcod-hunifTcd countenance of his partner faced him. '-Well, you'ro a hit pi ('mature. But hew the deuce did you know?"

"Bless the child! Of com-se, we're all blind. Go oni my innocent one. What arc your plans'" "I can count on you, then?" "Of course; but if you arc trying on the old dodgo of a motor trip with a breakdown, it won't work. Martindale is too shrewd for that. You can take that as a dead-euro tiling. He's awfully keen on to-morrow's business, and it will have to be- something very special to keep him away."

1 Ralph nodded "Thank's, old man. Of course, I know all about that. But I've lined my trap nicely. I shall catch. Marj tin da Jo with that very keenness you meni tion. I'm going to fetch him. thanks to his absurd prejudice about Smith. It's this way : Our London agents had a man up the other clay looking oyer the new bank premises. As a matter of fact, he came on my suggestion. Well, we went round together, and there's lots of things lie grumbled at. He even called Alartindalo a fossilised old architect, who couldn't supervise his own work properly. He growled badly about tiie strong room, and, us it happens, the door has been swung badly. I've known that for a week or two, but haven't wanjted it ,' .altered yet. It's out of plumb, and when I you opeiit it_ swings to again. We both got shut in this, afternoon, and he was in an awful fright, until I told him that, the leek had been taken off temporarily. Well, my idea works round that door. You must, ring up Martindale in the morning. j tell him of these complaints, and ask him ; to see you there. We nam an immediate | report. A'ou go over at 10 o'clock. The ! council meeting does not start until 11, | and the^ place is only 10 minutes' walk ! away. You wind up your tour of inspection at the strong room "by, saiv, half-past 10. A'ou both go inside", and the door swincrs to. You go last, to give it a ton oh. if by any chance it happens to stt.-k. That door and some of the girders about which complaint has been' made j were supplied from Smith's place, and nmntion of that will fetch Alartindalo as nothing else will.'' "That's all j-ight, and very fine, no doubt. But. oneo inside, then what? Are we to stay there for hours whilst von are forgetting lis in the company of our Ladv Mayoress" Tiiere was a broad grin on Siville's face. " Dear me through. You have an appointment for half-pstu rj. Tim critical business will he over then. With no one to load them cur good friends will simply follow the crowd. A clcik—Johnson will do—corner over to the council for you. 1 tell him you've gone to the new premise. '! h--n I suddenly remrmber about the door | l!mt swings to. and s.end him off postbaste with the kws to see if by chance you ,-jie there. Curiously enough, you are. Ih ? Jock is put back, bv the wav, and the door clicks to sweetly and quietly, as you'lj fee. T tried it only this monimg. You can't unlock it 'from inside bvause of that new drop-over bolt arrangement, which is to keep any gentleman inside, who by any chance gets there unlawfully. And just one. word more. A ou'll be in only an hour, and the atmosphme will he sweet and wholesome tor five times that period. Unless "—and ho chuckled--'-our mad friend Alartindale ' (and he will be mad) poisons it with his j laneuaire." "1 .-uppi-wo ih-je's, no other irayT') aliened fvn-ilte. - Can't 1 jock him in," or something like tint, and forget, him?'' Ralph laugher!. ■• H.ardlv," he said. | "ltd got to he an accident, and it I wouldn't do to have you nn either side of the door. Your memory could hardly fail you in such circumstances." "Weil, I suppose I must. I hope your plans don't miscarry. I don't want to be shut up with him a moment longer than necessary." Everything went well, though Ralph could not. help a feeling of pitv'and some] little contempt at (lie indecision of his I own party, slmnlienTless in the absence } of ATartindale and bv his own inaction, j for he had thought it better not to take, auv active part in the election. "After all," he mused, "it tull do us good. We need n, spell in opposition to give us some energy and backbone.'' Then the party leader became lost- in the lover as, at the informal reception which followed the election of the Lord I Ar-rvr v he had an opportunity of exchanging a few words with' Jeannie. Proud and queenly, she stood by her fr.ther's. side and received congratulations. A soft blush diffused her cheeks .as Ralph turned from her father to add hi.- word. ' II t hint' cl ire I li tig! foi t m>■ me ii T in o ' d 1 ilph *,ht wh s!r cl 1h n pml 1\ Wh le is Mr A] ulin 1 ih 5 •nutU it pa el ihini 1 Hi i" mind t it wo ild 1 \\ ll tme did not levin in d t d hiw hj hj I won In iirt n md he lplied JT tti lit at tlu mc tin,,, lb m n b i ]i Idt i T hotdd Met) e him ' < ud, ju ' i little m t/ullv l(t Ui he no Inn ' * 11ror " cnim. up + > ni itul d n i \tjr hj ii ii a\ ud omehri th ui u nt tt\ did notti te put o wcet at th 1 o 1 ilm-v-f wa' d i* , tin aims ot i ill M lr /<lip n ], ,„ irvl 1 1 run nto qmrl i atn i It s a'l lil ht Is b ud no hi i<r \r wiTd the tip or tie in >m vhi th' ] lie wei ill 11 if tic nc. i und Mrnlh tn Ihj lii i 'ml ha Iktn i % th A! uti id il A\ hj n tl it <- i tt nt ' to hj " t 1.1 r th uJit hj wis i -, ing to In ill lie hadn't a word in I Inn D s ii ii nn 1 now T t >f j tl" nt i 1 n no i d to tll that i m ti \ tthei ml d the dooi i i him ' ud th i lit ui it \mg ii? n\ n ! In Ird him o\ er Put I w i 'di t d hj ian i i _ood rl al v dph tli nim ullm ton K upm Y n tc't im \ T T e ii ml hj eouf d i N ith i ou'l T 11 To feb the +ru 1 nctt tint it tl 1 i i Iw i i wohidntd iir it \ t l fii mli and vn T upp It nn i n it do it j eti i iftt r t II t i r I 1 nh Di re li rlrr i<l d n m n" 1 ! li' ti tl eh in dhi ton ipiu 11\ I Ain fi m i 1 1 linqu i\ j Aoi i i ' t t n un i\ A\ nit ha\e I you gat ti wa \ bait 9 T( 11 1< AT nt in j d U ' II mi g tti u to u lied j head 1 md lou ht i hj d \ni in tl" J bolh t} 1 „.!!(' Tl il i _ht nn j Jo->I at mil iioh He n idd /! toind I i croup m hj mil I a win hj tt i*. AI ii j tiidib ton hi 11 ' ~( olln nn r ng up 1 i ! fce I r e in lid s r tch ip t j tie 1 off am u mas bet mu 1 > 1c ion t t 1' in < ad ui\ hr \ i\ i Hr fee' t i bttle llt r t i I ol ail tl ai 1\ >t i t i 11 )1i n\ hj e\ pt foh i o in I hj d ifsii t Kurt—won't s.a.v ain'thi Ralph crossed ,e.. : ' aiirj .dn'iok Martindale b\ the hand. "Ah. Dacre." said the other; •■*.<-, you got Smith in. T :■■■'■■■. I lni-r't- able to turn up, or perhaps- —" and he laughed. ••Yes." said Ralnh, bluntly." "Snville has been felling me what, has happened. I'm sorry." Alartindale shot a quick glance at the younger man. "Ah, well, it can't be helped ; and Saville can kecj) his counsel." Dacre understood and nodded acquiescence. He felt relieved. "Com?," he said, ".'im! let. me introduce you to the Lady Mayoress." Together they crossed to where the queenly figure stood, the diamond and gold insignia, glea'ming softly on her bosom. vrented Martindale with * smile that at once went to the heart of the man. Gallantly he- bent and raised her hand to his bps. " .Teaonie," miuuiurcd Ralph, over the head of the stooping man. "yon win all hearts." She tl-ashed him a bright look. And later, when the news of a mmini marriage w.ts made known, ATartindale slapped Ralph jovially on the, back, and subscribed handsomely to an official wedding present. [The, End.]

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Bibliographic details

THE LADY MAYORESS, Evening Star, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915

Word Count
4,600

THE LADY MAYORESS Evening Star, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915

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