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A DAUGHTER OF THE TROPICS.

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[COPYRIGHT.] A DAUGHTER OF THE TROPICS. BY FLORENCE MARRYAT, ,dutho), of ,Love's Conjlid," VÙoniqlle," etc. CHAPTER XVI. AN UNEQUAL GAME WHEN Mark Kerrison had done this deed. tSX&SFS&iT' b»^° <«'™y es?degree! ^n^he^ victory in the sli-! liim that hi3 face wZ ?ntrary» lfc had 80 elate -of anticipation S H ? W1"g, Wlth, U^Ploa3lue sranidlv 13 pulses beating raor £ ve-and to? D f d()"e at any time sine own m nty- And, of course, he was hi e*rter'and free to order his life to pleas ta^ed so openh', and for s. ^ea*_s Past, of his 'determination to lcee? ool.u' an impressed the advantages 6 ii a.cy with so much pertinacity on others io ^readed the jests his club companion oula make at his expense when they learnei the truth. Miss Power had stipulate 1 that the engagfc TOent should be kept a secret, at least for the present. Mark Kerrison felt that the difficulty wouh. not to hold his tongue on the subject, but tt Itiake his confession (especially to the homt circle) when the time came for the revelation. Colonel Escott he feared a little, but Mr&. Arlington a thousand times more. The fcrnitA had the greater right to complain of the cOfi templated change, but the latter was bound to have the most to say about it. No woman who has enjoyed absolute sway over the establishment of a bachelor ever like* to have a mistress set over her, and Mr. Ker- rison still retained an uneasy recollection of the little scene which took place on the firs' night of Miss Credo." Notwithstanding, his conscience pricked hir; most on the score of his old chum James Escott. He had induced Je:n to take up ilis permanent residence in Hyde Park Gardens on the express agreement that they were to end their days together, and it seemed hard he should be forced to seek another home. Not that Mark Kerrison had the least inten- tion of turning Colonel Escott out in order t make room for his young wife. On the contrary, lie should do everything in his power to make iiim continue to live with him, but he justly doubted if Escott would accept the offer. And so under all his secret triumph, Ker- rison felt guilty and ill-at-ease, and his absence of mind and uncertain spirits soon made them- selves patent to the two people he was most anxious to keep in the dark. After having once inquired the cause and 'been put off with an evasive answer, Colonel Escott came to the conclusion that business matters were somehow going wrong with his friend but Lola Arlington was not to be deceiv- ed by words. She had watched Mark Kerrison's growing interest in Lily Power from the beginning of their acquaintance. She had suspected his feel- ings for her on the first night of •• Miss Credo," anct became assured of them on the occasior • of the dinner-party. Now, to be added to her other doubts, cam< lil frequent absences from home, and his wa Bering thoughts, which had constantly to I brought back to the point. With feminine tact, too, she detected various little alterations in his dress, which denoted & 'desire to appear more juvenile. His neckties "Were brighter and frequently changed. He appeared in white waistcoats and highly-varn- Sahed boots and laid in a set of Oxford shirts, thatwere only fit for a boy of twenty. That silent, pale-faced girl had gained some Influence over him—by what means Lola Arling- ton was at a loss to discover—but she felt cer- tain, in her own mind, that it was she, and no other, who occupied Mark Kerrison's thoughts, and drew him so frequently from home. To suppose that the jealousy that took posses- sion of Mrs. Arlington's breast at this dis- covery was actuated only by the fear of losing her influence, or her situation, would be unjust. In her way she really loved the somewhat brusque and uncouth genius whom she called niaster. She had been permitted to approach him nearer than others. She had watched the Workings of his brain, and been lost in admira- tion of the talent which could construct so cunningly, and write so brilliantly, and put upon the stage so perfectly the creations of his fancy. She was a clever woman, and could appreci- ate strength in others. And daily contact had caused her admiration to ripen into love, until she believed she could not live if anything came between her and Mark Kerrison. The idea that he was cultivating an intimacy with another woman—with some one who might become necessary to him, perhaps, as she had flattered herself she had done—who might try and supplant her in his estimation- Step into her shoes —take over her work-fill the place in his establishment, which she would be no more needed to fulfil the duties of—0 it was maddening even to think of. Mrs. Arlington had no idea, at that period, that Lily Power possessed any interest but that of friendship for Mr. Kerrison. But she did not wish him to have any female friends but herself. She dreaded the advent of a pos- sible rival, and resolved, at all risks, to prevent it. It was not long before everyone concerned saw that something was wrong with Mrs. Arling- ton. At first she displayed a persistent melan- choly, but finding that it recoiled more on her- self than on Mark Kerrison, especially as he Was so seldom at home to be influenced by it," she went on a different tack, and tried if shu could pique him by jealousy to take more notice of her. The card she played was naturally the one closest to her hand, Colonel Escott; and the Colonel, with a fluttering wonder at his honest heart as to what her unusual atten- tions might mean, responded cordially to them. But the game was not a fair one, for the stakes were unequal, and one of the players was a sharper. Yet in this world, for every winner there must be a loser, and Colonel Escott had to share the general lot. There was a day in the future, though as yet too far off to be distin- guishable, when the trump card would be in his hand. Would he sacrifice it, or go in for hi., revenge ? It was usual for the two friends, when not entertaining guests themselves, to spend the Sunday evening quietly in their own house. Escott had a simple, kindly heart, which no^ permit hiin entirely to forget the teaching 0f his childhood; and he disliked l-v rioting and feast.jng on the first day ot it because he had been taught to keep K sohooiriS»n' though reared in a very different could 'calia\not 80rry to have an evening he only too nlpn 8jOWn' and Mrs. Arlington was herself. 8ec* to keep him for a few hours to The trio were n day evenings t?CU8tomed to spend their Sun- sanctum, where ^re*Qre> in Colonel Escott's pipes and talk ove* men smoke their books and papers, wlf?*? ti,nes> or rea^ their and sang softly to her Slle Went to the piano sat apart and wrote let?1 accomPaniment or They were peaceful, wholes^ to ^r^en^s- Kerrison had often said the"?6i?yeninSs> an(^ and he looked forward to them T>m seemed always seeking an excuse tr. "?w, lie from home, and it was difficult S?e them yithout raising the suspicions of 1° l<*t behind. One evening in particular aT tvT f? of July- when ,ie !iad arranged to take Lilv Jfower to Richmond, ha came downstairs i,,»t £ tho dinner hour, cla.l in lne> and evidently witu no intention cr loining the family party. in wT"- "^r^n8lon> who was becomingly arrayed *vcn l'te' looke<* woi'fuUy disappointed, and tt u-|Sco^ could not contain his surprise. Are ^ai'k, ol. i fellow what is this* Mr k 030 ?lov eiri30n al»peored to be searching fo; y' C3, ^eg?edS fce!! y°uJ ? Sonic fellow? ^sancg e Jr° S° to Richmond. It's an awfu> Ca"I,u l>o»<5ii,i 10^G ^oa Vi011't mia3 lie; but Oh y :iVuut Sayi»w Lv mi:-sing' yon, that, goes withou- lhc Colonel, cheerfully. YV< ism. i' n"i'sc' V'"i-—culd wp, Mrs. Arliri' uaineas wusi coiu« beiore pusaauiv, and I suppose there's business, as usual, at the bot i,oli-i ot tl. is ? "Naturally. I belong to everybody, you know, but mi-self. \Veil, gooil-bje, oU Mta* I do not expect to be very late. If J still up cn my return we'll have a pip-in the sanctum together. Good-night, Mrs. Arlmg- t0And with some confusion, Mark Kerrison g'Tii^Two he lS'behind felt rather discon- him Thev ate their dinner almost Tn silence, although Colonel Escott did all he could to entertain his fair companion. "Come—come this will never do, he exclaimed, as dessert was placed upon the table Mark will get too conceited if we 1let him see his absence has the power to affect us to this degree. Cannot we manage to pass a pleasant evening in each other s com- pany for once in a way Mrs. Arlington She elevated her dark brows with well-acted SU'^Are" you alluding to Mr. Kerrison's absence, Colonel Escott ?" -ffoof "Well, I suppose so; or to the effect it is having on our conversational powers. I don't think you have said ten words to me all dinner-time.' r "Oh, Colonel! what a calumny! It is you who are visiting your own depression of spirits upon me. If you condescended to take any notice of what I say whilst Mr. Kerrison is present, you would find I never talk much on Sunday. It is such a holy, peaceful day. It seems quite sacrilegious to disturb its quiet by discussing worldly things." The Colonel's blue eyes beamed with sud. denly awakened interest. Do you really think so ? I had no idea you felt in such a manner." You thought, I suppose, that it is impos- sible for a woman who is generally engaged in worldly duties and conversation ever to have a serious moment. But sometimes the more careless and ungodly our surroundings, the more we are driven inwards to seek relief from them." Colonel Escott stared. This was the sort of talk he had been used to years ago, when he lived with his mother at home; but he had seldom listened to it since. And to hear it from the lips of Lola Arlington was the strangest thing of ail; yet he felt glad —very glad—that it should be so. 1 can't tell you how you interest me," he replied, earnestly. "I confess I was not prepared to listen to such an expression of feel- ing from you, but, then, I have never stopped to think or inquire what your idea on such sub jects were. The only thing which has disap- pointed me a little in meeting my dear old friend Mark Kerrison again-l am sure I may speak openly to you, Mrs. Arlington, and that you will respect my confidence-Is the utter absence of anything like religion that pervades himself and the company he frequents. Don't mistake me, Mrs. Arlington. I am not what is called a 'religious' man myself, and never have been. But not to hear the mention of anything but the world and the things of the world does jar cn me sometimes. It seems as if in this great careless, money-loving city, there was no time or space to think of anything but the amuse- ment, and dissipation, and indulgence that shut out the remembrance of a grave thought. It was so different in India," he concluded with a sigh. Perhaps you had more congenial friends in India," suggested Mrs. Arlington. Oh, no, indeed 1 have never had a friend in all my life that I loved, as I love Mark but I lived chiefly alone whilst there, and solitude ia conducive to serious thought." "How well I know that, Colonel Escott, for, though you may be surprised to hear me ■ay so, It too have lived the chief part of my life alone—or worse than alone. But what real solitude can equal the heart-weariness induced by the weight of an uncongenial companionship It is the memory of the past that brings so many silent, depressing hours with it for me even now." "But you are quite happy in the present?" interposed Colonel Escott, eagerly. Mrs. Arlington glanced at him from the depths of her big brown eyes, and then lowered her lashes without a reply. I trust we are going to spend this evening together," remarked the Colonel, as they rose from the table. You won't desert the sanc- tum because Kerrison is not in it, Mrs. Arling- ton 1" °. "Certainly not, if you prefer my comd pany, Colonel Escott. But you must not stan d on ceremony if you wish to be alone." "How could I wish to be alone?" replied Escott, gallantly, as he held the door open for her to pass through. She appeared, therefore, as usual with the coffee, and sang him some plaintive quasi-religi- ous ballads suited to the occasion. The Colonel hung over her enraptured. He thought he had never met so attractive, so interesting a woman before. "Do you know, Colonel Escott," she ex- claimed, suddenly, as she finished a song about dreams and memories of long ago, if you won't consider me very impertinent to say so, I cannot help thinking that you have had a sad past as' well as myself. Not in the same way, perhaps but having much the same effect upon your spirits, and that you, like me, oftener dream of the future than of the present." Tell me about your past," he said, moving his chair nearer to hers; and then I shall be better able to judge if your surmise is a correct one. There is little to tell except what all the world knows already," she answered, heaving a deep sigh. A child of sixteen forcibly mar- ried to a man of sixty, without knowing what marriage meant, or what were its duties and its obligations; and then a life of horror, of deceit, and fraud, and chicaners-and I obliged, by threats of violence, to see it all, and make no sign. Oh, Colonel Escott, if you could guess what that bitter experience was like you would pity me ? I have heard something of it from the lips of my friend Kerrison, dear Mrs. Arlington, and I do pity you," replied the Colonel, pres- sing her hand. Ah but you cannot realize it. And do you wonder, then, if my thoughts yet go back with feverish longing to those days when I was an innocent, happy child at my mother's keee, and I thirst to obliterate the terrible scenes that intervened, and find myself there once more. These peaceful Sabbath evenings," she con- tinued, gazing at him with the tears she had the magical faculty to conjure up at will standing in her eyes, and making them doubly charm- ing—"how they appeal to all that is best in my nature How I wish we could persuade dear Mr. Kerrison to go to church; it would make the day twice as dear! Do you not go yourself ?" inquired the Colonel, who could not have spent the week with a peaceful conscience if he had not attended divine service at least once on Sunday. ««i" course she replied, with ready deceit; » v«n j before either of you lazy people are out of bed. But it is a kind of thing I don't care to talk about. There is so much profession and so little practice in the world, that it is best to keep one's most sacred feelings to oneself. One is so seldom given credit for sincerity. I would not have mentioned the subject to any one but you. But this is enough of myself tell me of your trouble, dear Colonel Escott— that is, if you consider me worthy of such a con- fidence. A friend—especially a woman friend- can sometimes descry light where all appears to be in darkness. Not that I am presump- tuous enough," she added, with her long black eyelashes sweeping her cheek, to think that you regard me in the character of a friend." CHAPTER XVII. I AM GOING TO BE MARRIED." THE Colonel seized her dimpled hand, and raised it deferentially to his lips. "It is I who would be honoured by your permitting me to eall you »o h» Seeing the hiah esteem in which you are nem aeeing tne nig" « wished to ask by my friend Kerrison, i have 0 you to give me a place in your ^crpVXen I you know, Mrs. Arlington, I fancied when 1 first came here that you quite disliked me, and Arlington's*1 glaneeof1 Jbtressed surprise Oh, Colonel Escott, if you only knew my real opinion of your x But I am not in a position to express al feel. However, I thought the subject ° n J self was ended. If you consider me t0 he your friend, treat me as such, and tell me what sad memory it is that makes you so olteu distrait and thoughful." The Colonel flushed scarlet. "Indeed there is nothing to tell; or, at least, so common a story that it possesses no interest, and one that happened so long ago that it is almost out of mind. I do not deny that my life has been a disappointment to me; I sup- pose few men or women, married or single; arrive at my age without the same conviction; and to suffer in company, they say, is to have suffering halved therefore, I conclude I am your not worse off than my neighbours, and I am content it should be so." Have you no regrets, then ? No yearnings for a change ?" I won t go so far as to say that. If things had gone right with me instead of wrong, and I was a iparried man at this moment, with my boys and girls growing up around me, I daresay I should be happier than I am at present; but the situation would have brought its cares and responsibilities with it, and, perhaps, J might sometimes have wished I had never undertaken them. You see, mankind is so per verse we generally want that which we de not possess, and the best cure is to look arounc and see how impossible it is for any worldl' condition to satisfy us. We must have some troubles in this life, and it is only a questior of choice." "But you must not talk as if all chance* of happiness were over for you, Colonel Escott • you have not reached middle-age yet, and have many years before you with the capacity o enjoyment in them. Even the hopes you be- lieve to be dead may yet be fulfilled-who car tell?" "But I am not sure if I wish them to be fulfilled," replied the Colonel, gazing ful1 at her handsome face; I fretted a good dea1 whilst I was in India, for I was alone, anil had nothing to distract my thoughts from dwelling on the past. But since I have returned home I have felt less and less regretful, and I think it would take a very little now to make me overcome it altogether." You must not look out for a nice wife," said Lola Arlington, with a bewildering smile and the past trouble will vanish like a; unholy dream." "Oh, no," he answered; "I am like my friend Mark-I shall never marry; it is a compact between us. Besides, what should I marry for whilst I can live here and have yot to look after me? Do you very much want to get rid of me?" he added, tenderly. "There is no need for me to answer thai, question, Colonel Escott; you know how happy it makes me to be able to contribute te your comfort. But should this lady turn up-" She can never turn up' as you call it," he said quickly and if she did She is not dead then ? No; she is not dead in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but she is dead to me. There will never be any further communi- cation between us I do not desire there should be. Will you not believe me when I say that in your friendship, since you are so good as to promise it to me, and in that of my dear Kerrison, I have all that I require to make my future life happy and contented ?" She heaved a deep sigh. "And supposing Mr. Kerrison should marry-" James Escott smiled with supreme incredulity. That is not probable-I might say, not pos- 6ible. Mark and I have discussed the subject more than once, and he has convinced me of his resolution; he is no more likely to marry, Mrs. Arlington, than I am. Will you promise not to laugh at me if I tell you something ? Do friends laugh at one another?" she re- turned, softly. Once in a way, perhaps, for this is realls ludicrous! When I first arrived in England and saw how charming you were, I accused poor Mark of an intention of marrying you." How awfully absurd!" she exclaimed, fan cing herself vigorously; and what did he »y?" Ob, he denied it in toto, of course; and it was on that occasion, I think, that we plighted our troth of continual celibacy." But people do break their troths some- times," suggested Mrs. Arlington. It must be hard for any man to keep it with you in the house," replied the Colonel, "but I am sure Kerrison will; he has too little faith in his own power to make a woman happy." And are you as inoredulous, Colonel Escott, with regard to yourself ? I know I could have no reoommendation to the fair sex, except their own love of exer- cising charity." "Oh, dear! how blind you men are! and how unfairly you judge women You never give us credit for valuing a friend for his men- tal attractions; it must be all outside show and glitter, or we shall pass you by. You really don't deserve a true woman's regard, Kow did you like the young ladies of the Credo' company, whom we entertained at dinner that memorable evening? Not at all; I thought them ill-bred, super- ficial, and flashy-all, at least, except Miss Lily Power." "0, you admire her?" rejoined Mrs. Arling- ton, quickly. "She seems a gentle, refined, and ladylike sort of girl to me, but she is so silent one can hardly judge; any way, she stands out in pleas- ing contrast to such women as Miss Hartlebury and Miss Nevins. Don't you agree with me ? "Not entirely, Colonel Escott she appears to me to be deceitful-sly-and probably with something in the background to conceal. These silent streams run deep. I wish you could persuade Mr. Ke 'rrison that she is not worthy of his regard." Oh, Kerrison simply looks on her in a busi- ness light. She fulfills his requirements of the character she has undertaken. He would never dream of making her a friend." I am not so sure of that, Colonel Escott; there are ill-natured rumours afloat about them, and his evident preference is doing the girl no good. I think such an intimate friend as you are might give him a hint on the subject." But this was a matter Colonel Escott thought it better not to discuss behind Mark Kerrison's back, and so he evaded an answer by entreating his companion to sing to him again before they parted for the night. She went to the instrument at once and trilled out another little ballad about tears and smiles, an angel love, and the joys of long ago." How I wish I had known you in that long ago!" the Colonel ventured to whisper, as he hung over her. IVIty ? she asked, looking up at him. This straightforward question was rather a poser, but he managed to get over it without an actual confession. Because, when we were bdth young and light-hearted, we might have enjoyed each other's society without the intervention of these sad memories." "But we should have lost the privilege of consoling one another," she replied. "Right!" he exclaimed, "as your sweet sex always are. Ah if I could only believe that my true friendship might be any solace to you-the least distraction from the harrow- ing remembrance of your troubled girlhood- how proud, how happy I should be "Don't undervalue it," she said, as she gave him her hand at parting "I feel that it will prove a new era in my life." Long after she had left him he sat still, thoughtfully smoking his pipe, and wondering how much or how little she had meant by her last words, and whether it were possible that so brilliant and fascinating a creature could ever come to look upon him with any feeling warmer than friendship. How glad he was to think that he could cultivate her segard without treason to his dearest friend, and that Mark Kerrison would be happy to hear that she no longer looked on him as an interloper Yet the simple Colonel had no idea he was fal- ling in love with her. He thought she was an underrated and hardly-judged woman that she possessed virtues and had experienced suffer- ings for which she gained no credit; and that if his esteem and friendship could bring any pleasure into her life, he should be only too proud of the knowledge. He was still musing in this fashion when Mark Kerrison entered the room and disturbed his reverie. Hullo, Jem, old boy, are you still waking 1 I am glad of that, for I want to speak to your" 11 he exclaimed, as he threw himself into a ehair. You are back earlier than we expected. It is only half-past ten," replied Escott. Mrs. Arlington has npt long left the room. She can- not have retired yet. Shall I tell her yoh have returned ?" Hang Mrs. Arlington," said Kerrison, test ily it is you I want, Jem, not her. I have something to tell you. I know you will be aw fully surprised, but it's no use beating about tin bush. I am going to be married I' lvhat ? -cried the Colonel, nearly leaping from his seat, and quite uncertain if he had heard aright. I am going to be married," repeated Kerri- son. I have not made up my mind very long about it, or I should have told you before. Of course I felt bound to tell you the first of all. But there .are reasons now-that is, I have come to the decision that the sooner the marriage takes place the better, and so I give you the earliest information. I am sure, old fellow, that you have too much regard for me not to wish me every good luck." You are going to be married said the Colonel, in a dreamy, incredulous voice. Mark, you have positively taken my breath away Gbing to be married? You Why, it seems only like yesterday that you told me nothing on earth would induce you to change your condition." "I know-I know," said the other, impati- ently don't remind me of my folly. Yester- day, as you term it, I had not seen her." And who is the lady ? Do I know her ? Didn't I mention her name ? What a dolt I am; but yeu must guess it-Miss Power." Miss Power!" exclaimed Escott, more sur- prised than ever, "thatpale girl? Why, Mark, she is a child compared to you Well, that signifies to no one but myself and her," returned Kerrison, roughly. "No, no, of course not. Forgive me," said the Colonel, "and let me congratulate you, and say, Heaven bless you, Mark, with all my heart." Leaving his seat he walked over to the other's side and grasped both his hands cordially, and looked into his face with eyes not altogether guiltless of tears. My dear old Mark—my best and most con- stant friend-I shall so sincerely rejoice at anything which brings you happiness. And this marriage will make you happy, will it not ? You have well considered? You have done nothing in a hurry ? You are quite sure that Miss Power is the one woman in the world for you ? "I am quite sure, my dear boy. Do you think I should break through the resolution of years for less ? The fact is, Jem, I have never met any one before in all my life that I ever wished to marry but she is so pure-so gentle —so like her namesake, Lily, that I cannot conceive how she ever consented to be my wife. 0, come Mark, that is nonsense There is not a woman in London but might be proud to share the name you have made so famous. I am not the least surprised to hear that Miss Power has accepted your offer. I am only just a little bit astonished to hear you made it." After all my vows of celibacy and resolu- tions against the sex," said Kerrison, with half a smile and half a sigh. You may well be, Jem. I am more than a little bit astonished at myself! But I am afraid our vows become as melting wax when the one woman who can influence us brings her charms to bear against them I know mine vanished into air. Women are terrible temptresses, Jem, when you leve them one feels one could lay down one's life for their sake, let alone all one's good resolu. tions I suppose so replied the Colonel, gravely; at least I know ao, for I, too, have loved in my day. And you really care for Miss Power like this, Mark ?" — » „ I care for her more than for all the rest of the world put together I" replied his frieDt, solemnly. (To bø continued.)

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