MoboReader> Literature > The Lost Lady of Lone

   Chapter 4 SALOME'S CHOICE.

The Lost Lady of Lone By Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Sout Characters: 32409

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:02


Sir Lemuel Levison was taking his breakfast in bed. The London season was near its close. Parliament sat late at night, and often all night. Sir Lemuel, a punctual and diligent member of the House, seldom returned home before the early dawn.

So Sir Lemuel was taking his breakfast in bed, and "small blame to him."

It was a very simple breakfast of black tea, dry toast, fresh eggs, and cold ham.

"Take these things away now, Potts. Go and find Miss Levison's maid, and tell her to let her mistress know that I wish to see my daughter here, before she goes out," said the banker, as he drained and set down his tea-cup.

"Yes, Sir Lemuel," respectfully answered the servant, as he lifted the breakfast tray and bore it off.

"Umph! that is the manner in which I have to manoeuvre for an interview with my own daughter, before I can get one," grumbled the banker, as he lay back on his pillow and took up a newspaper from the counter-pane.

Before he had time to read the morning's report of the night's doings at the House, Salome entered the room.

The banker darted a swift keen look at her, that took in her whole aspect at a glance.

She was dressed for a drive. She wore a simple suit of rich brown silk, with hat, vail and gloves to match, white linen collar and cuffs, and crimson ribbon bow on her bosom, and a crimson rose in her hat. Her face was pale and clear, but so thin that her broad, fair forehead looked too broad beneath its soft waves of dark hair, and her deep gray eyes seemed too large and bright under their arched black eyebrows.

"You wished to see me, dear papa?" she said, gently.

"Yes, my love. But-you are going out? Of course you are. You are always going out, when you are not gone. I hope, however, that I have not interfered with any very important engagement of yours, my dear?" said the banker, half impatiently, half affectionately.

"Oh, no, papa, love! I was only going with Lady Belgrade to a flower-show at the Crystal Palace. I will give it up very willingly if you wish me to do so," said Salome, gently, stooping and pressing her lips to his, and then seating herself on the side of his bed.

"I do not wish you to do so, my child. I shall be going out myself in a couple of hours. But I want to have a little conversation with you. I suppose a few minutes more or less will make no difference in your enjoyment of the flower-show."

"None whatever, papa, dear."

"Humph! Salome, now that I look at you well, I do not believe you care a penny for the flower-show. Come, tell me the truth, girl. Do you care one penny to go to the flower-show?" he inquired, looking keenly into her pensive face.

"No, papa, dear," she answered, in a very low tone.

"Humph! I thought not. Now do you care for any of the shows, plays, balls, and other tom-fooleries that occupy you day and night? I pause for a reply, my daughter."

"No, papa, I do not," she answered, in a still lower tone.

"Then why the deuce do you go to them?" demanded the banker.

His daughter's soft, gray eyes sank beneath his scrutinizing gaze, but she did not answer. How could she confess that she went out into company daily and nightly only in the hope of seeing again the one man to whom she had given her unsought heart, and for whose presence her very soul seemed famishing.

"What is it that you do care for, then, Salome?" demanded her father, varying his question.

Her head sank upon her bosom, but still she did not answer. How could she tell him that she cared only for a man who did not care for her.

"This is unbearable!" burst forth the banker. "Here you are with every indulgence that affection can yield you, every luxury that money can give you, and yet you are not well nor content. What ails you girl? Are you pining after your convent? Set fire to it. Are you pining after your convent, I ask you, Salome?"

"Indeed, no, papa!"

"What!" demanded her father, starting up at her reply and gazing with doubt into her pale, earnest face.

"I am not thinking of the convent, dear papa. Indeed I had forgotten all about it. If it will give you any pleasure to hear it, dear papa, let me tell you that I have quite given up all ideas of entering a convent," added Salome, with a pensive smile.

"What!" exclaimed the banker, starting up in a sitting position and bending toward his daughter as if in doubt whether to gaze her through and through or to catch her to his heart.

She met that look and understood her father's love for his only child, and reproached herself for having been so blind to it for these three years past.

"Dearest papa," she said, with tender earnestness, "I have no longer the slightest wish or intention of ever entering a convent. And I wonder now how I ever could have been so insane as to think I could live all my life contentedly in a convent, or so selfish as to forget that by doing so I should leave my father alone in the world!"

"My darling child! Is this truly so? Are these really your thoughts?" exclaimed the banker, with such a look of delight as Salome had not believed possible in so aged a face.

"Really and truly, my father! And does it give you so much pleasure?"

"Pleasure my daughter! It gives me the greatest joy! Hand me my dressing-gown, my dear. I must get up. I cannot lie here any longer. You have put new life into me!"

Salome handed him his gown, socks, and slippers, and then went to clear off his big easy-chair, which was burdened with his yesterday's dress suit, and draw it up for his use.

And in a few minutes the banker, wrapped in his gown, with his feet in his slippers, was seated comfortably in his arm-chair.

"Now, shall I ring for Potts, papa, dear?" inquired Salome.

"No, my love, I don't want Potts, I want you. Sit down near me, Salome, and listen to me. You have made me very happy this morning, my darling; and now I wish to make you happy; you are not so now; but I am your father; you are my only child; all that I have will be yours; but in the meantime, you are not happy. What can I do, my beloved child, to make you so?" said the banker, drawing her to his side and kissing her tenderly, and then releasing her.

"Papa, dear, I should be a most ungrateful daughter if I were not happy," answered the girl.

"Then you are a very thankless child, my little Salome, for you are very far from happy," said her father, gravely shaking his head, yet looking so tenderly upon her as to take all rebuke from his words.

Salome dropped her eyes under his searching, loving gaze.

"My child, I know that I have the power to bless you, if you will only tell me how. Tell me, my dear," persisted her father.

But still she dropped her eyes and hung her head.

"If your mother were here, you could confide in her. You cannot confide in your father, my poor, motherless girl, and he cannot blame you," said Sir Lemuel, sadly.

"Father, dear father, I do love you; and I will confide in you," said Salome, earnestly.

For just then a mighty power of faith and love arose in her soul, casting out fear, casting out doubt, subduing pride and reserve.

"What is it, then, my love? Have you formed any attachment of which you have hesitated to tell me? Hesitate no longer, my dearest Salome. Tell me all about it. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Love is natural. Love is holy. Oh, it is your mother that should be telling you all this, my poor girl, not your awkward, blundering old father," suddenly said the banker, breaking off in his discourse as his daughter hid her crimson face upon his shoulder.

"My dear, gentle father, no mother could be tenderer than you," murmured Salome.

"Tell me all, then, my darling. It is the first wish of my heart to see you happily married. And no trifling obstacle shall stand in the way of its accomplishment. Who is he, Salome?" he inquired, in a low whisper, as he passed his hand around her neck.

She did not answer, but she kissed and fondled his hand.

"You cannot bring yourself to tell me yet? Well, take your own time, my love. You will tell me some time or another," he continued, returning her soft caresses.

"Yes, I will tell you sometime, dear, good, tender father. But now-when do we leave town papa?"

"In less than three weeks, my dear."

"And where do we go?"

"To Lone Castle, if you like; if not, anywhere you prefer, my dear."

"Then we will go to Lone, if you please, papa."

"Certainly, my dear."

"Papa?"

"Yes, love."

"Will you do something for me before we leave town?"

"I will do anything on earth that you wish me to do for you, my dear," said the banker, looking anxiously toward her.

She hesitated for a few moments, and then said:

"Papa, I want you to give just such a semi-political dinner party as that given by the Premier in the beginning of the season."

"What! my little, pale Salome taking an interest in politics!" exclaimed the banker, in droll surprise.

"Yes, papa; and turning politician on a small, womanish scale. You will give this semi-political dinner?"

"Why of course I will! Whom shall we invite?"

"Papa, the very same party to a man, whom we met at the Premier's dinner."

"Let me see. Who was there? Oh! there were three members of Parliament and their wives; two city magnates and their daughters; you and myself, Lady Belgrade, and-and the Marquis of-John-Mr. John Scott, I mean."

"Yes, papa, that was the company. Send the invitations out to-day, for this day week please-if no engagement intervenes to prevent you."

"Very well, my dear. You see to it. I leave it all in your hands. Now you may ring for Potts, my dear. I have to dress and go down to the House. I am chairman of a committee there, that meets at two. And you, my love, must be off to your flower-show. You must not keep Lady Belgrade waiting."

Salome touched the bell, and on the entrance of the valet, she kissed her father's hand and retired.

"Now I wonder," mused the old gentleman, "who it is she wants to meet again, out of that dinner company? It cannot be either of the old M.P.'s or their wives; nor the two elderly city magnates, or their tall daughters; that disposes of ten out of the fourteen invited guests. The remainder included Lady Belgrade, myself, Salome herself, and-Lord, bless my soul, alive!" burst forth the banker, with such a start, that his valet, who was brushing his hair, begged his pardon, and said that he did not mean it.

"Lord, bless my soul alive," mentally continued the banker, without paying the slightest attention to the apologizing servant. "The Marquis of Arondelle! He was the fourteenth guest, and the only young man present! And upon my word and honor, the very handsomest and most attractive young fellow I ever saw in all the days of my life! Come!" he added to himself, as the full revelation of the truth burst upon his mind; "that can be easily enough arranged. If he is the sensible, practical man I take him to be, he will get back his estates and the very best little wife that ever was wed into the bargain; and my girl will be a marchioness, and in time a duchess. But stay-what is that I heard up at Lone about the young marquis and a handsome shepherdess? Chut! what is that to us? That is probably a slander. The marquis is a noble young fellow; and I will bring him home with me this evening. I will not wait a week until that dinner comes off. We cannot afford to lose so much time at the end of the season," mused the banker, through all the time his valet was dressing him.

And now we must glance back to that evening when John Scott, Marquis of Arondelle, first met Salome Levison. He had met many statuesque, pink and white beauties in his young life; and he had admired each and all with all a young man's ardor. But not one of them had touched his heart, as did the first full gaze of those large, soft gray eyes that were lifted to his and immediately dropped as the old banker had presented him to-

"My daughter, Miss Levison."

She was not statuesque. She was not pink and white. She was not at all handsome, or even pretty; yet something in the pale, sweet, earnest face, something in the soft clear gray eyes touched his heart even before he was presented to her. But when she lifted those eloquent eyes to his face, there was such a world of sympathy, appreciation and devotion in their swift and swiftly-withdrawn gaze, that her soul seemed then and there to reveal itself to his soul.

He never again met the full gaze of those spirit eyes. He never exchanged a word with her after the first few formal words of greeting. He had only bowed to her, in taking leave that evening.

Yet those eyes had haunted him in their meek appealing tenderness ever since. He did not meet her anywhere by accident, and he did not try to meet her by design. He only thought of her constantly. But what had he to do with the banker's wealthy heiress, the future mistress of Lone? If he were so unwise as to seek her acquaintance, the world would be quick to ascribe the most mercenary motives to his conduct. But like weaker minded lovers, he comforted himself by writing such transcendental poetry as "The Soul's Recognition," "The Meeting of the Spirits," "What Those Eyes Said," etc. He did not publish these. After having relieved his mind of them, he put them away to keep in his portfolio. So you see the handsome, "princely" Hereward was as much in love with our pale, gray-eyed girl as She could possibly be with him.

And so with the young marquis also the season passed slowly and heavily away, until the day came when into his den at the office of the Liberator walked Sir Lemuel Levison.

His heart really beat faster, although it was only her father who entered.

He arose, and placed a chair for his visitor.

"Lord Arondelle, you know I knew you when I met you at Lord P.'s dinner-party, and I saw that you knew me. It was not my business to interfere with your incognito, and so I met you as you met me-as a stranger. But surely here and now we may meet as friends without disguise," said the banker, as he slowly sank into his seat.

"We must do so, Sir Lemuel, since we are tete-a-tete. It would be idle and useless to do otherwise," replied the young marquis, courteously.

"And now, my young friend, you are wondering what has brought me here," continued the banker.

"I am at least most grateful to any circumstance that gives me the pleasure of your company, Sir Lemuel," courteously replied the young marquis.

"Well, my lord, I come to beg you to waive ceremony, and go home with me to dinner this evening. I hope you have no engagement to prevent you from coming," added Sir Lemuel, with more earnestness than the occasion seemed to call for.

"I have no engagement to prevent me," answered the young man frankly, but slowly and thoughtfully, for he was wondering not only at the invitation but at the suddenness and earnestness with which it was given.

"Then I hope you will come?" said the banker.

"You are very kind, Sir Lemuel. Yes, thanks, I will come," said the marquis.

"So happy! Will you allow me to call for you-at-at your lodgings?"

"Thanks, Sir Lemuel, if you will kindly call here at your own hour, it will be more directly in your way home, and you will find me ready to accompany you."

"Quite right. I will be here at seven. Good morning."

And with this the banker went away.

"He wants me to make an article about something, I suppose," mused the young man when the elder had gone. "I will go. I will see that sweet girl again, even if I never see her afterwards."

The temptation was certainly very strong. And so, at the appointed hour, when the banker called at the office of the National Liberator he found the young gentleman in evening dress ready to accompany him home.

Salome Levison was dressed for dinner, and seated in the drawing-room with her chaperone, Lady Belgrade.

Salome was certainly not expecting any guest. But she intended to go to the opera that evening with Lady Belgrade, to hear the last act of Norma. Luckily for Sir Lemuel's plan, it was not a peremptory engagement, and could easily be set aside.

On this evenin

g she was beautifully dressed. She wore a delicate tea-rose tinted rich silk skirt, with an over skirt of point lace, looped up with tea-rose buds, a tea-rose in her dark hair, a necklace of opals set in diamonds, and bracelets of the same beautiful jewels. Refined, elegant, and most interesting she certainly looked.

Meanwhile, the banker came home, and himself conducted the unexpected guest to the drawing-room.

"Mr. John Scott, my dear," said Sir Lemuel, bringing the young gentleman up to his daughter.

The young marquis caught the sudden lighting up of those soft, gray eyes, and the sudden flushing of those delicate cheeks.

It was but for an instant; for even as he bowed before her, her eyes fell and her color faded.

It was but for an instant, yet in that glance those eyes had again revealed her soul to his.

The young marquis was not a vain man. He could not at once believe the evidence of his own consciousness. But he found it rather more awkward to sit down and open a conversation with this pale, shy girl, than he ever had in his palmiest days to make himself agreeable to the brightest beauty that ever honored Castle Lone with a visit.

For once the presence of a chaperone was not unwelcome to a pair of young people secretly in love with each other.

Lady Belgrade chattered of the weather, the opera the park, and what not, and relieved the embarrassment of the lovers during the interval in which Sir Lemuel Levison had gone to change his dress.

The young marquis seldom spoke to Salome, but when he did, his voice sank to a low, tender, reverential tone that thrilled her inmost spirit. She replied to him only in soft monosyllables, but her drooping eyelids, and kindling cheeks, told him all he wished to know. He might have wondered more at the interest he had seemed to excite in a girl he had met but once before, had he not had a corresponding experience himself. He knew that he himself had been deeply impressed by this sweet, shy, pale girl, on the first meeting of her soft gray eyes, with their soul of love shining through them.

He did not know that this "soul of love" had first been awakened in her, by hearing his story and seeing his portrait, and that it was which so powerfully attracted him-for love creates love.

Sir Lemuel Levison hurried over his toilet, and soon entered the drawing-room.

Dinner was immediately announced.

"Mr. Scott, will you take my daughter to the table?" said the banker, as he gave his own arm to Lady Belgrade.

It was an elegant little dinner for four, arranged upon a round table. There was no possibility of estrangement, in so small a party as that.

Sir Lemuel talked gayly, and without effort, for he was very happy. Lady Belgrade chattered, because she was spiritually a magpie. And as both constantly appealed to "Mr. Scott," or to Salome, it was impossible for either of the lovers to relapse into awkward silence. The conversation was general and lively.

Sir Lemuel Levison and Lady Belgrade would have talked in the most flattering manner of "Mr. Scott's" leaders, if that young gentleman had not laughingly waived off all such direct compliments.

When dinner was over, Lady Belgrade gave the signal, and arose from the table. Salome followed her, and left the two gentlemen to their wine.

"It afflicts me to have to call you Mr. Scott, my lord," said Sir Lemuel, when he found himself alone with his guest.

"Then call me John, as you used to do when I rode upon your foot in my childhood, and when I used to come to you in all my worst scrapes in boyhood-I shall never resume my title, Sir Lemuel," replied the young man.

"Never!" exclaimed the banker.

"Never, Sir Lemuel. A pauper lord is rather a ridiculous object. I will never be one."

"You could not be one. I won't hear you say such things about yourself. See here, John. Do you know why I bought Lone when I knew it was to be sold?"

"I suppose because you wanted it."

"Now what did I want with Lone? I, an old widower, without family, except one little girl at school? I did not want Lone. I wanted you to have it. But I knew that if I did not buy it some one else would. And-I had this only daughter, who would have Lone after me. And I thought perhaps-But then you disappeared, you know, and no one on earth could tell for three years what had become of you, when you suddenly turned up as Mr. John Scott at the Premier's dinner."

The banker paused, and ran his hand through his gray hair.

The young man looked at him with curiosity and interest.

"Plague take it all! her mother, if she has one, could manage this matter so much better than I can," muttered the banker, as he poured out a glass of wine and drank it. "Well, Lord Arondelle-I will give myself the pleasure of calling you so while we are tete-a-tete 'over the walnuts and wine.' Lord Arondelle, there is my daughter; what do you think of her?" he demanded, bending down his gray brows and fixing his keen blue eyes scrutinizingly upon the young man's face which flushed at the suddenness of the question. But he quickly recovered himself, and replied in a low, reverent tone:

"I think Miss Levison the loveliest young creature I have ever had the happiness to know."

"You do! So do I! I think so too. And the man who gets my girl to wife will get a pearl of price."

"I truly believe that," said the young man, with an involuntary sigh.

"That is right! Ahem! Bother it! a woman could do this so much better than such a blundering old fellow as I! Well, there! Salome has, in the three years since her first entrance into society, refused half a score of eligible men. She is, and always has been, perfectly free from any such engagement. If you are equally free, my dear marquis-(If I could only be her mother for three seconds)-Ahem! if you are equally free, and if you admire my girl as you say you do, and if you can win her affections-she-she shall be yours, and I will settle Lone upon her. There, her mother would have done this better, I know. So much better that you would have proposed to my daughter without ever dreaming that the suggestion came from our side. But as for me, I have flung my girl at your head, nothing less!" grumbled the banker.

"My dear Sir Lemuel," said the young man, with some emotion, as he left his seat and came and stood by the banker's chair, leaning affectionately over him; "when I first met your lovely daughter, I was so deeply impressed by her rare sweetness, gentleness, intelligence-ah! Heaven knows what it was! It was something more than all these. In a word, I was so deeply impressed by her perfect loveliness, that had I been as really the heir of Lone as I was the Marquis of Arondelle, I should at once have cultivated her further acquaintance, and, before this, have laid my heart and hand, titles and estates, at her feet."

"Well, well, my boy? Well, my dear lad, why didn't you do it?" inquired the banker, with tears rising to his kind eyes.

"I have just told you, because I was a ruined man," said the marquis with mournful dignity.

"'A ruined man?'" echoed the banker, with almost angry earnestness. "I know that you are not a ruined man! And you know, even better than I do, because you have more brains than I have; you know that no young man, sound in body and sound in mind, can be ruined by any financial calamity that can fall upon him. You love my daughter, you say. Well, then, you have my authority to ask her to be your wife. There, what do you say?"

The young marquis sat down and covered his face with his hand for one thoughtful moment, and then replied:

"This is a happiness so unexpected that it seems unreal. Sir Lemuel, do you really appreciate the fact that I am a man without a shilling that I do not earn by my labor?"

"I really appreciate the fact, and most highly appreciate the fact that you are Marquis of Arondelle, and to be Duke of Hereward-and that you are personally as noble in nature as you are fortunately noble in descent. And although my first motive in favoring this marriage is the pure desire for yours and for my daughter's happiness, still I assure you, my lord, I am keenly alive to its eligibility in a mere worldly point of view. Your ancient historical title is, (to speak as a man of the world,) much more than an equivalent for my daughter's expectations. But it is not, as I said before, as a highly eligible, conventional marriage that I most desire it, but as a marriage that I feel sure will secure the happiness of yourself and my daughter, whom I shall, nevertheless, be very proud to see, some day, Duchess of Hereward. Come, now, I never saw a gallant young man hesitate so long. I shall grow angry presently."

"Sir Lemuel," said the marquis, with some irrepressible emotion, "were I now really the Duke of Hereward, and the owner of Lone, and were your lovely daughter as dowerless as I am penniless at this moment, and did you give her to me, my deepest gratitude would be due you, and you have it now. When may I see Miss Levison and put my fate to the test?"

"That's right. Upon my word, my boy, if I were a galvanic foreigner instead of a staid Englishman, I should jump up and embrace you. Consider yourself embraced. When shall you see her? We will go into the dining room now and get a cup of tea from the ladies; after which, you shall see her as soon and as often as you please. And after you win her, as I am sure you will, we will have a blithe wedding and you and your bride will do the Continent for a wedding-tour, and then come back and spend the Autumn at Lone. We two old papas, the duke and myself, will join you there, and everything will be quite as it used to be in the old days."

"Ah! my poor father!" sighed the young man.

"What of the duke, my dear boy? You told me he was well," said the banker, anxiously.

"Yes, he is well in body, better in body than he has been for years; but I think that is only because his mind is failing."

"I am very sorry to hear that! In what respect does this failure show itself-in loss of memory?"

"In partial loss of memory; but chiefly in a hallucination that possesses him. He thinks that he is still the master of Lone as well as the Duke of Hereward. He thinks that he lives in London, and in the most Objectionable part of London, only to gratify my 'eccentric whim' of being a journalist. And he daily and hourly urges me to return with him to Lone!"

"In the name of Heaven, then gratify him! Take him to Lone as my guest, until you can keep him there as your own. Let him be happy in the illusion that he is still its master. I will see that the servants there, who are most of them his own old people, do not say or do anything to dispel the illusion! Come, my son-in-law, that is to be, will you take your father at once to Lone?"

For all answer the young marquis grasped and wrung the hand of his old friend.

"But will you do it?" persisted the banker, who wanted to be satisfied on that point.

"I will think of it. I will think most gratefully of your kind invitation, Sir Lemuel. And now shall we join the ladies?"

"Certainly," said the banker.

They went into the drawing-room.

Lady Belgrade was presiding over the tea urn.

Salome, who was seated near her, looked up and saw him. Again the marquis noted the sudden, beautiful lighting up of those soft, gray eyes, as they were lifted for a moment to his face. Again they fell beneath his glance, as her pale cheeks flushed up. He could not be mistaken. This sweet girl whom he loved, loved him in return.

"I was just about to send for you. You lingered long at table, Sir Lemuel," said Lady Belgrade, as the two gentlemen bowed and seated themselves.

"Oh, important political and journalistic matters to discuss," said Sir Lemuel. ("Only they were not discussed,") he added, mentally.

"So I supposed," said Lady Belgrade, as she handed him a cup of tea, which he immediately passed to his guest.

After tea, when the service was removed, Sir Lemuel challenged Lady Belgrade for a game of chess, and told his daughter to show Mr. Scott those chromoes of the Madonnas of Raphael which had arrived in the last parcel from Paris.

Salome flushed to the edges of her dark hair as she arose, glanced shyly at her guest for an instant, and walked to the other end of the drawing-room.

There, on a gilded stand, under a brilliant gasolier, lay a large and handsome volume, which Salome indicated as the one referred to by her father.

The marquis brought two chairs to the stand, and they sat down to go over the book.

Meanwhile, the banker and the dowager commenced their game of chess. But from time to time, each looked furtively in the direction of the young people. They were looking at the Madonnas of Raphael, and, once in a while, shyly into each other's eyes. All that Sir Lemuel saw there pleased him. All that Lady Belgrade saw there displeased her.

At length she put her hand over that of her antagonist, and stopped his move while she said:

"Sir Lemuel, a conflagration may be arrested by stamping out a spark of fire."

"Whatever do you mean, my lady!" inquired the perplexed banker.

"An inundation may be prevented by stopping up a small leak."

"I am more mystified than ever!"

"Look at Salome and Mr. Scott, then," said her ladyship, solemnly.

"Well, what of them? They seem to be very happy and very well pleased with each other."

"Ah! that is it, and worse may come of it."

"What worse can come of it?"

"Sir Lemuel, this Mr. Scott, you must remember, is nothing but an adventurer, who only gains an entrance into respectable circles on account of his journalistic reputation. He is probably also a pauper, but being a very handsome and attractive man, he is certainly a very dangerous, and likely to be a very successful fortune-hunter."

"You mean he may try to marry my heiress?"

"Yes, Sir Lemuel."

"He has my full consent to do so."

"Sir Lemuel!"

"Listen, my good lady, I have a secret to tell you. That gentleman whom we have known as Mr. John Scott only, is really Archibald-Alexander-John Scott, Marquis of Hereward."

A woman of the world is hardly ever "taken aback." Lady Belgrade gave no exclamation. But she caught her breath and stared at the speaker.

"It is as I have told you. He is the Marquis of Arondelle. He is going to marry my daughter. He will get back Lone through her. And she will be Marchioness of Arondelle, and in due time Duchess of Hereward."

"You-don't-say-so!" breathed her ladyship, slowly.

"And now, you know how to manage it. You must aid the young couple as much as you can by giving them as much as possible of each other's society."

"Yes, I see," said her ladyship. "And now-don't look toward them again."

The banker nodded intelligently. And they gave their attention to the game.

And the two young people seemed to find inexhaustible interest in the volume they were bending over.

It was eleven o'clock before the young marquis arose to take leave.

"I have asked Miss Levison to ride with me in the Park to-morrow, and she has kindly consented-with your approbation, Sir Lemuel," said the young man.

"Certainly, Mr. Scott. I consider horseback riding one of the most healthful of exercises," said the banker, heartily.

The young marquis then bowed and took his leave.

Lady Belgrade gathered up her embroidery work and bade them good-night.

"My girl, what do you think of Mr. Scott?" asked the banker, when he was left alone with his daughter.

"Oh, papa," she breathed in an embarrassed manner.

"Do you know who he really is, my dear?"

"Yes, papa, I knew him when I first met him at the Premier's dinner. I knew him by his portrait that I saw at Castle Lone!"

"Oh, you did!" said the banker, musing.

His daughter looked at him for a moment, and then suddenly threw herself into his arms, clasped his neck and kissed him fervently, exclaiming, with her face radiant with delight:

"Oh, papa! this is all your doing! I understand it all, dear papa! Bless you! bless you! bless you, my own, own dear papa! You have made your child so happy!"

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares