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   Chapter 44 THE BLUE JAY

The Lamp in the Desert By Ethel M. Dell Characters: 11073

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


"Tommy says his name is Sprinter; but Uncle St. Bernard calls him Whisky. I wonder which is the prettiest," said Tessa.

"I should call him Whisky out of compliment to Uncle St. Bernard," said Mrs. Ralston.

"He certainly does whisk," said Tessa. "But then-Tommy gave him to me." She spoke with tender eyes upon a young mongoose that gambolled at her feet. "Isn't he a love?" she said. "But he isn't nearly so pretty as darling Scooter," she added loyally. "Is he, Aunt Mary?"

"Not yet, dear," said Mrs. Ralston with a smile.

"I wish Uncle St. Bernard and Tommy would come," said Tessa restlessly.

"I hope you are going to be very good," said Mrs. Ralston.

"Oh yes," said Tessa rather wearily. "But I wish I hadn't begun quite so soon. Do you think Uncle St. Bernard will spoil me, Aunt Mary?"

"I hope not, dear," said Mrs. Ralston.

Tessa sighed a little. "I wonder if I shall be sick on the voyage Home. I don't want to be sick, Aunt Mary."

"I shouldn't think about it if I were you, dear," said Mrs. Ralston sensibly.

"But I want to think about it," said Tessa earnestly. "I want to think about every minute of it. I shall enjoy it so. Dear Uncle St. Bernard said in his letter the other day that we should be like the little pigs setting out to seek their fortunes. He says he is going to send me to school-only a day school though. Aunt Mary, shall I like going to school?"

"Of course you will, dear. What sensible little girl doesn't?"

"I'm sorry I'm going away from you," said Tessa suddenly. "But you'll have Uncle Jerry, won't you? Just the same as Aunt Stella will have darling Uncle Everard. I think I'm sorriest of all for poor Tommy."

"I daresay he will get over it," said Mrs. Ralston. "We will hope so anyway."

"He has promised to write to me," said Tessa rather wistfully. "Do you think he will forget to, Aunt Mary?"

"I'll see he doesn't," said Mrs. Ralston.

"Oh, thank you." Tessa embraced her tenderly. "And I'll write to you very, very often. P'raps I'll write in French some day. Would you like that?"

"Oh, very much," said Mrs. Ralston.

"Then I will," promised Tessa. "And oh, here they are at last! Take care of Whisky for me while I go and meet them!"

She was gone with the words-a little, flying figure with arms outspread, rushing to meet her friends.

"That child gets wilder and more harum-scarum every day," observed Lady Harriet, who was passing The Grand Stand in her carriage at the moment. "She will certainly go the same way as her mother if that very easy-going parson has the managing of her."

The easy-going parson, however, had no such misgivings. He caught the child up in his arms with a whoop of welcome.

"Well run, my Princess Bluebell! Hullo, Tommy! Who are you saluting so deferentially?"

"Only that vicious old white cat, Lady Harriet," said Tommy. "Hullo, Tessa! Your legs get six inches longer every time I look at 'em. Put her down, St. Bernard! She's going to race me to The Grand Stand."

"But I want to go and see Uncle Everard and Aunt Stella at The Nest," protested Tessa, hanging back from the contest. "Besides Aunt Mary says I'm not to get hot."

"You can't go there anyway," said Tommy inexorably. "The Nest is closed to the public for to-night. They are going to have a very sacred and particular evening all to themselves. That's why they wouldn't come in here with us."

"Are they love-making?" asked Tessa, with serious eyes. "Do you know, I heard a blue jay laughing up there this morning. Was that what he meant?"

"Something of that silly nature," said Tommy. "And he's going to be a public character is Uncle Everard, so he is wise to make the most of his privacy now. Ah, Bhulwana," he stretched his arms to the pine-trees, "how I have yearned for thee!"

"And me too," said Tessa jealously.

He looked at her. "You, you scaramouch? Of course not! Whoever yearned for a thing like you? A long-legged, snub-nosed creature without any front teeth worth mentioning!"

"I have! You're horrid!" cried Tessa, stamping an indignant foot. "Isn't he horrid, Uncle St. Bernard? If it weren't for that darling mongoose, I should hate him!"

"Oh, but it's wrong to hate people, you know." Bernard passed a pacifying arm about her quivering form. "You just treat him to the contempt he deserves, and give all your attention to your doting old uncle who has honestly been longing for you from the moment you left him!"

"Oh, darling!" She turned to him swiftly. "I'll never go away from you again. I can say that now, can't I?"

Her red lips were lifted. He stooped and kissed them. "It's the one thing I love to hear you say, my princess," he said.

The sun set in a glory of red and purple that night, spreading the royal colours far across the calm sky.

It faded very quickly. The night swooped down, swift and soundless, and in the verandah of the bungalow known as The Nest a red lamp glowed with a steady beam across the darkness.

Two figures stood for a space under the acacia by the gate, lingering in the evening quiet. Now and then there was the flutter of wings above them, and the white flowers fell and scattered like bridal blossoms all around.

"We must go in," said Stella. "Peter will be disappointed if we keep the dinner waiting."

"Ah! We mustn't hurt his august feelings," conceded Everard. "We owe him a mighty lot, my Stella. I wish we could make some return."

"His greatest reward is to let him serve us," she answered. "His love is the kind that needs to serv

e."

"Which is the highest kind of love," said Everard holding her to him. "Do you know-Hanani discovered that for me."

She pressed close to his side. "Everard darling, why did you keep that secret so long?"

"My dear!" he said, and was silent.

"Well, won't you tell me?" she urged. "I think you might."

He hesitated a moment longer; then, "Don't let it hurt you, dear!" he said. "But-actually-I wasn't sure that you cared-until I was with you in the temple and saw you-weeping for me."

"Oh, Everard!" she said.

He folded her in his arms. "My darling, I thought I had killed your love; and even though I found then that I was wrong, I wasn't sure that you would ever forgive me for playing that last trick upon you."

"Ah!" she whispered. "And if I-hadn't-forgiven-you?"

"I should have gone away," he said.

"You would have left me?" She pressed closer.

"I should have come back to you sometimes, sweetheart, in some other guise. I couldn't have kept away for ever. But I would never have intruded upon you," he said.

"Everard! Everard!" She hid her face against him. "You make me feel so ashamed-so utterly-unworthy."

"Don't darling! Don't," he whispered. "Let us be happy-to-night!"

"And I wanted you so! I missed you so!" she said brokenly.

He turned her face up to his own. "I missed myself a bit, too," he said. "I couldn't have played the Hanani game if Peter hadn't put me up to it. Darling, are those actually tears? Because I won't have them. You are going to look forward, not back."

She clung to him closely, passionately. "Yes-yes. I will look forward. But, oh, Everard, promise me-promise me-you will never deceive me again!"

"I don't believe I could, any more," he said.

"But promise!" she urged.

"Very well, my dear one. I promise. There! Is that enough?" He kissed her quivering face, holding her clasped to his heart. "I will never trick you again as long as I live. But I had to be near you, and it was the only way. Now-am I quite forgiven?"

"Of course you are," she told him tremulously. "It wasn't a matter for forgiveness. Besides-anyhow-you were justified. And,-Everard,-" her breathing quickened a little; she just caught back a sob-"I love to think-now-that your arms held our baby-when he died."

"My darling! My own girl!" he said, and stopped abruptly, for his voice was trembling too.

The next moment very tenderly he kissed her again.

"Please God he won't be the only one!" he said softly.

"Amen!" she whispered back.

In the acacia boughs above them the blue jay suddenly uttered a rippling laugh of sheer joy and flew away.

* * *

THE END

* * *

GREATHEART

By Ethel M. Dell

There were two of them-as unlike as two men could be. Sir Eustace, big, domineering, haughty, used to sweeping all before him with the power of his personality.

The other was Stumpy, small, insignificant, quiet, with a little limp.

They clashed over the greatest question that may come to men-the love of a girl.

She took Sir Eustace just because she could not help herself-and was swept ahead on the tide of his passion.

And then, when she needed help most-on the day before the wedding-Stumpy saved her-and the quiet flame of his eyes was more than the brute power of his brother.

How did it all come out? Did she choose wisely? Is Greatheart more to be desired than great riches? The answer is the most vivid and charming story that Ethel M. Dell has written in a long time.

* * *

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York London

* * *

The Hundredth Chance

By

Ethel M. Dell

Author of "The Way of an Eagle," "The Knave of Diamonds," "The Rocks of Valpré," "The Keeper of the Door," "Bars of Iron," etc.

12°. Color Frontispiece by Edna Crompton

The hero is a man of masterful force, of hard and rough exterior, who can remake a human being with the assurance of success with which he breaks a horse. Toward the heroine he is all love, patience, solicitude, but she sees in him only the brute and the master. To break down her hostility, and defeat unscrupulous craft which draws her relentlessly to the verge of disaster, the hero can rely only on the weight of his personality and innate tenderness. It is the Hundredth Chance; on it he stakes all.

* * *

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York London

* * *

Blue Aloes

By Cynthia Stockley

Author of "Poppy," "The Claw," "Wild Honey," etc.

No writer can so unfailingly summons and materialize the spirit of the weird, mysterious South Africa as can Cynthia Stockley. She is a favored medium through whom the great Dark Continent its tales unfolds.

A strange story is this, of a Karoo farm,-a hedge of Blue Aloes, a cactus of fantastic beauty, which shelters a myriad of creeping things,-a whisper and a summons in the dead of the night,-an odor of death and the old.

There are three other stories in the book, stories throbbing with the sudden, intense passion and the mystic atmosphere of the Veldt.

* * *

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York London

* * *

The Beloved Sinner

By

Rachel Swete Macnamara

Author of the "Fringe of the Desert," "The Torch of Life," and "Drifting Waters"

One of the very prettiest of springtime romances-a tale of exuberant young spirits intoxicated with the springtime of living, of love gone adventuring on the rough road-a story, humorous with the gay impudences of a young Eve who is half-afraid and altogether delighted with her fairy-prince.

G.P. Putnam's Sons

New York London

* * *

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