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THE FIGHT FOR THE CROWN.

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[PUBLISHED BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT.! THE FIGHT FOR THE CROWN. BY VvT. E. XORRIS, Author of "My Friend Jim." "Misadventure," A Dancer in Yellow," &c.. &c. [COPYRIGHT CHAPTER XVII.—FOREST AND MOOR. To be a healthy young man out in the free air of a heathery Scottish hillside, and to have just seen a. royal stag drop to your .-hot at a distance of some- thing nke a hundred yard. is to be a very Lappy you;-g man, no matter wha.t cares you may have dis- missed and be destined -hortiy to resume. There is perhaps nothing better in this unsatisfying world than to be such a young man in such a. situation; aJ-d Wilfrid K !*<->. who wa> wealthy, in addition to being1 healthy, had wisdom enough to realise this. He sxid to himself that he would certainly rent a deer forest next year (an incidental acknowledgment of the consolations of wealth) he also said to himself that lit8, after ail, has moment- good enough to make up for many bad OIKS, and to the stalker he remaikecl aloud. wirll modest exultation, Well. I'm glad I didn't miss him." Given a fair chance, he was not very likely to miss, beirg tolerably expert in the u.-e of a rine: still, it had been a pretty shot, and the stag was a magnifi- cent one, end he was entitled to the triumph which he had earned by long and hard labour. So. wlu-o t"hs gnlloching process was going on, he sat down, upon ilie h?ather and smoked a pipe and was g,al1. In these wild, wide, fre-h solitudes how far he wa- from the ignub.e strif of party warfare! How far from petty social worries How far even U°r Iie 1UlC* t1: courage to be quite honest in his seit-comiuuu- ings) from the gnawing pangs of love-sickness^. It may be thought that a lover capable of tnus joy- ously musing could not really have b-sen VITV much in iove but *ome allowance mu.-t be made for a man who. after conscious.}* •]*■ ndmg many mout'i- in tt.e wrong place, suddenly finds himself in the r.gat one. To Wilfrid sport, and especially sport of this kind. was the supreme pleasure of existence he was aware of excelling in it, and not less aware that he w.-nu! never conspicuousty excel in any other pttr-ut. Moreover, he was under no illusion with T'eg.ird to Nora Power: he had not the faintest hope or winning her love. and he believed that the very best thing he could do would be to cure himself of h:s own—should that prove to be within the compass or his abilitv. He had now* heen for more than a fortnight the £ !-ST of his friend Graham, a well-to-do, middk- a.g, 1 bachelor, in whose company he had hid low r. ■ ye than onc tiger, and the four remaining members or the party were nitn with whom he found him-elf in complete sympathy—men who cared It great deal fur sport and wry little indeed about politics. They w-f. almo-t as a matter of cour-e. Conservatives, 0'i; rboy were hy no means aggressively so. nor, beyond some oeea-ional, good-humoured chaff, ad- dre-;ed to the Radical candidate for the Hickinglev .on. did they touch upon topic? which thev v.ere th-eqnipped to discuss. However, when Wilfrid le-urned. towards sunset, to Mr. Graham's rambling, out -srtoreyod shootmg-loeige, he found his com- panions who had been out grouse-shooting, bu-v v .th a, fre h.y-arrived batch of newspapeis. and one ot them remarked Now you'll be happy, Elles for your distill- ai.i leader ha~ issued his ma-nifrsto at last. I Mippo-e you and the electors of Midlothian will i!i k.t ,anj wha.t he means by it. though I'll be shot it a sirnpie creature like myself can make head or tau ot tile thing." Inats exact.y what he does mean, and what he a.ways mean?." put in Mr. Graham. It's essential that the average individual should be unable to make head or tail cf his utterances. Your vote is what he wants, not your comprehension." Wiltnd. conscious of being an average individual c."voted him.-elf. with a sigh, tj the study of a docu- ment wh.ch. to tell the truth, was nor too ensv of c<).rpreheiLsj°n. II taut qu'unc porte soit ouvertn u ii.nee, says the French proverb: but perhaps th, t necessity was unlik^y to b, recognised bv the ^toneusly divided party, and cmainJv -engthy aodre s to his constituents l;dYe a. considerable number of doors aj-. Jiiat he should be precise with regard to i°re:g:i poiicy Parliamentary procedure, land-lnw rei; n:>, and the p< ssible disestablishment of the <i.).t.t cf England was not demanded of him Dy s"° nU', f,°IIowvl'8 Wilfrid, as he had told Bland, had gulped down the Radical pro- t.t.ine upon these points, and considered himself tui.v committed thereto. But it did seem desirable tnai the finger of authority should point towards some siioe^tio and clear line of couduct in relation to ii-sh affairs, and it was upon this portion of the ina:i:fe..ro that the attention of the reader naturally coi.cjntrated itsdf, Nothing, it appeared to hiu;, couid be III re d:st:.nct or more decisive. To maintain the supremacy of the Crown, the- unity of the Empire, aud [\1 the authority of I'ar- I a:out nectary for the conservation of that unity," wrote Mr. Gladstone, is the first duty of every representative of the people." He added, to be sure, that, subject to this governing principle, every gran: to portions of the country of enlarged powers fcr the management of their own affairs is. in my y.e-.v, not a stance of danger, but a means of a veiling it. But this could hardlv* be construed as impiy- ing any sauctu n of Home Rule. It looked as though I y, iiacl mac!t' a little mistake, and as though tae integrity of the British Empire might ¡¡af,oty continue to be upheld on any platform. •J,u rea!'y. said Wilfrid, in reply to certain 1 7 (i, u awaited him after he had ascertained that the limes'• considered Mr. Gladstone's ce- .f ranee dispiriting, while the "Standard7' 1 nought it weak, disappointing, and vague," and the Jhuly 'leiegraph deemed it eminently xr- i*Tate, at:c^ jud,CH;us, "one doesn't come to the Highlands to be bothered with public a'Tairs. In -due season an you fellows will chuck brickbats at my head or look the other way when we meet, I dare- ay. Let us he friends as Song as we can, and foiget that one of us, for his sins. is in imminent danger of becoming an M.P." My dear bey," good-natured Mr. Graham re- turr.o 1, «''you're welcome to be a Socialist, or a. Republican, cr an Anarchist, or what you please. You are like your clever little friend. Lady Virginia Lethbridg'; it's safe for you to commit yourself to any ?et of monstrous doctrines, because the people Wh0 knew vou will never he pemiaded to quarrel with you. Oh, and that reminds me that Lady Virginia's brother is coming here. I had a letter from thai just now! he can spate us a few days, ho saya. Dul you ever see Southtield shiot? Well, it's worth seeing, I can tell you; and now that the birds are getting rather wi!d, he'll have a chance of hew nig you what he can do." It is always a pleasure to look oil at brilliant sh< ofngj but. quite independently of that promised treu, ilfrid was glad to hear "that Lord South- fa eld was expected. There w^re one or two points upon which he might reasonably expect to obtain «>me enlightenment from this visit, and although -uis-s rowi r had seen fit to treat him with marked discourte y, that did not, of course, prevent him irom continmng to be a sincere and disinterested weii-wisher of hers. But when, on the following afternoon, the addi- tional guest arrived, looking as impassive and im- penjtraljLO as was his wont, and having very little to anybody, no immediate occasion presented T v'i ^'r M !.e,^t>llvery of ^rJy Virginia's message. l*< J ..outhueld rceogni.s^a >d gieeted Wilfrid wiji, som^ approach to_ fneudlines-s but he had the air— t, iiiva.iiablo awhich some men manage to ae- IJ'.l'j ,1?'U offence—of not wanting to be Oilly lat.. in the posed of and cigars and pines l,-„i i i V jppiosciiea tke subject of hi. „u °Ss^S% s!y- •' [ left about a fortnight ago," '• Your sister, I believe, was in hopes of f=e'ehf|l!Cd* hn.t then. At least, she told me. in cage you Across you m Scotland, to say lather emphatSlf^ that sho was. y So she has been writing nnd telegraphing lord ,.e ;n-:d!y remarked. "Veryunieasonabie ot liLT: but you may have noticed that Virginia 13 an unreasonable woman.. liaven t taken any notice of her despatches: witn women 110 excuse rays so well as holding your tongue. It's easily done, too, when you luive. the Inck to be a few hundred miles beyond their roach. Af:.er smoking in silence for a few minutes, he r'uir.ed: "You had old Bland there. hadn t you? Plausible sort of old miscreant, Bland. If I had hail his income, I could find sonic better use for my time than to run about the country, making 1Il- ftaminatory speeches; but there's no accounting for taste- I I. ft Sir Samuel and his daughter at Heek- inglej- Wilfrid said. "They were to stay s< ^ic litrie tune longer, I understood." But if he thought that the mention of Miss Bland would cause Lo:d Southfield to move a muscle, lie v- as disappointed. The latter, after a pause, merely went on to remark "Old Bland was helping you to humbug the Heek'.ngley electors, I suppo-e; lie's rather good at that sort of thing, they tell me. Not that you neecbd Ins help; for I believe Virginia holds that diVi-;on m the hollow of her hand. I'm not a poli- t:e:an mysf f. Lord Southfield added, "so it strikes me as r.lfner funny that a good sportsman who can afford to treat himself to good sport should want +. > be in the Hau-e of Commons still, as that is your Widi, you have done well to take Virginia sid\ My experience is that Yiiginia's is always bo'ind to be the winning side." Thi, gave ri-e to protests from sundry other mem- bers of tha company, who could not admit that the triumph of P.acl:cal:sm was assuted, and thus the conversation tcok a turn unfavourable for the elicit- ing of discoveries upon which Wilfrid was bent. Nor wa^ he more fortunate on the morrow, when a 1ou¡¡c day on the moors cave him ample ojsoortunitjr to satisfy himself that Lord Southfieid's skill had -not bptn exaggerated, but afforded him no chance of in- quiring wither anything more had been done with regard to the ha--e of Ratlmnnan Abbey. On the other hand, his own excellent shooting secured for him the esteem, not to say the affection, of one who was accustomed to measure all men by the rank to which they were entitled in the aristocracy of sport, and on the way home Lord Southfield, who had become qujte amiable and confidential, took him by the elbow to say: Now. I'll tell you what it is. Elles: you must come over and stay with me in the South of Ireland next winter. From all I hear, the pheasant shooting isn't worth the trouble; but in the average season ought to gel some good days with snipo and cock. You have taken the place, then?" said W ilfrid. "Oh, yes; I've taken it. Got it a bargain, too, I believe, thanks to vour Home Rule friends. 1 oor old Power seems as pleased as Punch to be out ot it —and he has caved in to his daughter. She is o have her own way about the theatre. Wilfrid's heart sank. What theatre?" was his next Ar Ah. that I can't tell vou yet. The St. a s most likely but it will have to depend upon how I can work "things when I go up to London. So Lord Southfield v.-as going to w0\' I1^ and in defiance of the friendly warning addressed to her. Nora, it appeared, had placed herself m his hands! This was anvthing but welcome news, and Wilfrid was conscious that his voice was not alto- ge* her under control, as he asked ■" is it -o certain that you will be able to secure & lucrative theatrical engagement for an utterly un- known and untried } onng laciv Lord Southfield thought that it was. I don't know about what you would call a lucrative part to tstart with but she'll come to the front like a shot. She did a little bit of acting for for rny ben-fit the last timelwag there •• Oh, you have been there this summer, then?" Yes and I saw at once that sin had only to go in and win. She is Lord Southfield paused for a moment,, and then added, in accents of admiring a r'ppEi- A ripper! But of course all this was none of W il- frid Elles's business, and if Miss Power preferred to nuke intimate friends of men who could find no more fining description than that to give her. she must be allowed to go her own way. All the same, it did seem rather surprising that she should be allowed by ii-r father to go her own way. and W ilfrid after sihntlv plodding along for some distance, could not refrain from remarking: "I should hardly have expected Mr. Power to givi. his consent so readily. I ceitamly shouhln t havegivenmine.iflhadbeenhe. '1 Well, he didn't give it very readily. LordSouth- field confessed. "In fact, he was 1II a thundering at first. But I believe he consulted some or his friends, and they advised him not to make all a of him-elf." 1" Inv "I wish." Wilfrid involuntaruy ejaculated, "he had consulted me This seemed to amuse his companion, who hughe J and answered OIt, he wouldn't be very likely to do that. Y ou aren't at all in favour with the old gentleman. I can tell you. One can't very well com- bine V itginia s favour with the favour of Irish land- lords, and he has heard whose disciple you are. He says he can stand Radicals at a pinch, but he'll be hanged if he is going to shake hands with avowed traitors and rebels. So, if I were you, I wouldn't stir him up in his Kensington lair." That only had been wanting! To have incurred Mr. Power's displeasure at the very moment when Lord Southfield appeared to have rendered himself a "persona gratissinia" in that quarter was of eoursf equivalent to hopeless and conclusive defeat. Wil- frid said no more, having nothing more to say; but frid said no more, having nothing more to say; but his heart was full of wrath and bitterness. He fore- saw what was coming—foresaw even a good deal which was not at all sure to come—and lie made up his mind to endure a state of things which he was patently powerless to cure. He did not tell him- self in so many words that he would forthwith pro- pose to Lady Laura Mayne but he did recognise that such must be the logical, inevitable outcome of his mental survey. On the following morning Lord Southfield, Fum- nioned to other shooting quaiters, took his leave, and as he was driven away from the door, Mr. Graham remarked: That fellow is a fine shot and pleasant enough company. It's a pity that he hasn't the vestige of a conscience where women are concerned. Sir Samuel Bland is making overtures to Southfield on his daughter's behalf, they tell me. I wish the siliy old fool joy of his future son-in-law!" CHAPTER XVIII.—THE VERDICT OF HODGE. I Lady Yiiginia Lethbridge was wont to speak in somewhat opprobrious terms of hunting and shoot- ing men. Not, she-would explain, that there was anything to be said against them during close time; on the contrary, they were then, taking them all ['OU¡,,1. p- i th,, L-, tiaao ot men In existence. But while engaged in their favourite pursuits they ceased, according to her, to be of the slightest use for social purposes. Their conversation resolved itself into endless recitals of iheir own performance-, which were frequently mendacious anil always u-,iili-- teresting; they were apt to drop asleep immediately, after dinner, and became, generally, such uncon- ecionablt bores that there was no living in the house with them. Her ladyship, therefore, made it a ruie t,) turn her back upon Heckinghy as soon as tho trees began to grow bare, leaving her husband to entertain bachelor partus art fn.s ease, in the parti- cular year with which this narrative 15 concerned she proposed, it is true, to return home before the' end of November, reasons of State rendring that act of <eif-acrifice imperative upon her: but until the electoral campaign should open in earnest she felt entitled to grant herself leave of absence, and she was graciously pleased to intimate by letter to Wilfrid E.le- that a similar privilege might, in her opinion, be claimed by the future member for the division. She added in a postscript- whether with inten- t.onal significance or not her correspondent could not tell-" Laura and I are going to disport our-elves at Brighton. It isn't a particularly nice place; but, after all. one generally comes across somebody whom one knows there, and abroad' is hardlv worth the trouble of the journey for these few w-teks Ine missive brought a sense of relief to its re- cipient, who did not want to resume the labour of speech-making any sooner vlian he could help, and who was m the frame of mind to welcome any plan that presented itself under the guise of a postpone- ment. He dld not. therefore, betake to Brighton, but spent his autumn, not unpleasantly, in Scotland and England with various friends who were glad enough to have the assistance of so trust- worthy a shot. But, although it was holiday time, he could not of cour-e, consistently with his "duty to the Heckin"- iev electors and the country and himself, neglect To keep a watchful eye upon polrtlcal development's or to peruse attentively the orations reported in the nee, .-papers. Of these the most important—not to sav rhe only important ones—were, in the early part of November, poured forth abundantly by his eminent leader for the instruction of Midlothian audiences. Possibly some members of those audiences tlitl not receivu therefrom quite such cattgoricai instruction as they could have wished, but to Wilfrid certain points seemed to be clearly established by them.' hat. for example, could be more decisive than Mr. Gladstone's first words in Edinburgh, when, after deprecating divisions in the Liberal camp and de- Cianng that the party ought to obtain such a majority as would suffice to insure its independence in dtiiing with the Irish question, he went on to, hope unit not a single representative would be re- turned to I aruamtnt wdio for one moment would ^i-ieii to any proposition tending to impair the visib.e and sensible empire? Whatever demands may be made on the part of Ireland, if they are to A" M^ertamed, they must be subject to the condition V;'C tl]\\ r/-V °f l'le emPire ^'ai! be preserved." fo'ii'wv i 1 C0U'd any r^pectful and obedient aCaVe 5 wound introductory observations were took asttdedlo ?rh Irish ^tional party time as if Vr p.. cu'a ory' u seemed for a nc;t Parliament -an™ t- 8 aci iere;its wxiuld iu .he Opposition.. Not until" °f divsse J his constituents -it \VP t rCi T"° nt'xt ,?u* oce:is;oa he rioiculcd the- iuvitit^on o °in Pa:U,n ,h.0Uia td state piam:y wnat he was prepared to 'offer to Ireland, was open war declared upon hisi by those t ,rlt ,wh(Ve| .S,upp0'A li r TT1'^ to '"ake a ^nU,ne bid. I ntil Ireland had returned h^r TOt-moers, Gladstone iemarkej, nobody could i>o' -°T certain w'lafc her wisi:es were. Moreover fu^riW-IU? "c he must decline to usurp the ha'tw 0 l'le. responsible Ministry, which (per- h'isii voleiX>[ln:st-ers did not want to lose the 'Hien remained impenetrably silent. time, 'remark-ef! Jkld 8 entertainer at the strong. 'n "e caught it hot and alista at otice^Lounc d of the Irish Nation- upon their fellow r, 1SSi a • manifeeto calling everywhere s £ ;ountrvmen m England to v-te "^eluged Egypt with Ki 'i'1211 w!'° coerced Ireland, in the school, the freed?, ?leiiact,1 libtrtv and promise to the cou'nt° "pe dl1,i!1 I'ariLament. t* th(» crimes and folWryc g°:le7!ly a repetition ministration." °r tne last Liberal Ad- Tin's v.as f. lowed by a fierr« Liberal party, which Wilfric? of the ountry gentleman of Conservatlvi'0^' -U^° Was a aloud with a good deal of quiet lead •• Your .friends," he observed^!t..sa ^faction. above. ci\ii to you." no' over ann "Thev are rather n ore vour friends «, ju--t now. aren't they?" returnetl Wilfrid events you can't retuse Mr. Gladstone credit for courage and honesty 111 dealing with them." *'r The other shrugged his shoulders. 011. well. I suppose he has balanced one coo federation against another, and now he has de- 1 clared to win with three acres and a cow. I don't mv-o f believe that he will WUl; but we shall soon -p Wi'fno if h- had told the whole truth, would have had t(> acknowledge that he did not greatly care whether Mr. (JLdstone wen or lo^t. politics, Is a game, he could not bring himself to t'co> any interest, nor tHd it seem to !iim that, ex- t-ept as regarded Ireland, there was urgent nee 1 iOr fresh legislation. And th# Irish uuestiou.

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