MoboReader > Young Adult > Once a Week

   Chapter 3 AFFIANCED

Once a Week By A. A. Milne Characters: 2370

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

The ball was at its height. Gwendolen, who had been in to supper eight times, placed her hand timidly on the arm of Lord Beltravers, who had just begged a polka of her.

"Let us sit this out," she said. "Not here-in the garden."

"Yes," said Lord Beltravers gravely. "Let us go. I have something to say to you."

Offering her his arm, he led her down the great terrace which ran along the back of the house.

"How wonderful to have your ancestors always around you like this!" cooed Gwendolen, as she gazed with reverence at the two statues which fronted them.

"Venus," said Lord Beltravers shortly, "and Samson."

He led her down the steps and into the ornamental garden, and there they sat down.

"Miss French," said Lord Beltravers, "or, if I may call you by that sweet name, Gwendolen, I have brought you here for the purpose of making an offer to you. Perhaps it would have been more in accordance with etiquette had I approached your mother first."

"Mother is dead," said the girl simply.

"I am sorry," said Lord Beltravers, bending his head in courtly sympathy. "In that case I should have asked your father to hear my suit."

"Father is deaf," she replie

d. "He couldn't have heard it."

"Tut, tut," said Lord Beltravers impatiently. "I beg your pardon," he added at once, "I should have controlled myself. That being so," he went on, "I have the honour to make to you, Miss French, an offer of marriage. May I hope?"

Gwendolen put her hand suddenly to her heart. The shock was too much for her fresh young innocence. She was not really engaged to Giles Earwaker, though he, too, was hoping; and the only three times that Thomas Ritson had kissed her she had threatened to box his ears.

"Lord Beltravers," she began--

"Call me Beltravers," he begged.

"Beltravers, I love you. I give you a simple maiden's heart."

"My darling!" he cried, clasping her thumb impulsively. "Then we are affianced."

He slipped a ring off his finger and fitted it affectionately on two of hers.

"Wear this," he said gravely. "It was my mother's. She was a de Dindigul. See, this is their crest-a roe-less herring over the motto Dans l'huile." Observing that she looked puzzled he translated the noble French words to her. "And now let us go in. Another dance is beginning. May I beg for the honour?"

"Beltravers," she whispered lovingly.

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