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ALL JUGRTS RBSERVBD. J THE WHITE FEATHER. By "RUY." READY, Helen?" asked peremptorily, more SUlI, Gertie Fairfax, appearing, parasol-whip in hand, at one of the open windows of the long drawing-room at Laureston one afternoon, the last of a certain August. "Ready, Helen ?" A fair-haired girl, buried in a low, soft chair, day- dreaming, with her pretty gloved hands lying in her lap, answered lazily. Yes, dear," and rose, not too willingly. Then come along," said Gertie; Damon and Pythias are wild to start, and the dog-cart went for Dar half an hour ago. We shall be too late for the train, after all. Come alohg, dear!" And, thus adjured, Helen Treherne followed her cousin out of the cool, pleasant room on to the hot asphlate of the terrace, and eventually into the per- feet little pony-chaise it was Gertie's pride to call her own. do Drake," Miss Fairfax said presently, when the white dust-wrapper had been settled over her own skirt and her companion's that'll do; let them go!" And Drake (a tiny Elzevir groom, known to his mistress's inmates as "the Childe") obeying, the impatient ponies flung themselves with a jerk into their collars, and started off at a hand-gallop down the avenue almost before the Childe could swing himself into his perch behind. They're awfully fresh, Nell!" said there delighted mistress, as soberly as she could, while the Jouvin's sixes on her firm little hands, that controlled so skilfully the vagaries of those wilful pets, were sorely strained and tried in the endeavour to keep the said pets straight now as they rushed past the lodge;" they're awfully fresh It's lucky they knew we were coming, and kept the gates open, isn't it? I think we shall get to Bad- dingley before Dar, after all. Gently, Damon! Quiet, sir!" as the off thoroughbred tried to break into a canter again on the smooth high road, and the congenial Pythias, on the near side, seemed quite ready to follow his example. There! that's beauti- ful Aren't they darlings, Helen ?" "Dears!" assented Miss Treherne: "but just a little too much for you at times, I think, Gertie." Nonsense! they've never got out of my hand once since Dar gave them to me. Why, he chose them for me himself, on purpose for my own driving, or mamma would never trust me with only the Childe,' who is only ornamental, you know. I say, Nell, I'm to glad Dar is coming. This is the last we shall see of him. His leave's up in December, and the regiment isn't to come home for goodness knows how long." "Will Dar go back to India, then?" Miss Treherne asked. I'm afraid so Gertie sighed. I wished he wouldn't. So does mamma. She wants him to marry and settle down with us at. Laureston." And Dar declines ?" 0: So it appears. He always laughs in that provok- ing way of his at the notion of his ever being seriously epris, you know; says he should tire of any woman in a week, and that sort of thing. The fact is," Gertie added, after a pause, "in his quiet, dangerous" way, Mr. Dar is a frightful flirt; and he's been so spoiled that I don't thing he is likely to give me a sister-in-law yet awhile. This last season he was aitx petits sows with Flora Hoddesdon. You know the'Hoddesdons—up yonder at The Place. And I fancy Flora liked him. ÅS, indeed," remarked, en parenthèse, the partial sister, "most women do some- how, when he means they should. And we thought he really did mean something. But Dar went off quietly one morning to Baden, or somewhere, and nothing came of it. I think mamma would quite approve of Flora; and perhaps now, when they meet —but one never knows what to make of Dar. He takes everything so coolly; though no one can be more winning when he chooses. Vere Brabazon says he's worshipped in the regiment." And who is Vere Brabazon inquired Helen. Oh! didn't I tell you ?" Gertie said, looking straight forward between the off-pony's ears he's friend of Dar's, in the same regiment. Dar saved his life in India. They came home on leave to- gether, and we met him in London. He follows Dar about everywhere." Tienswill he follow his preserver down here ?" I'm sure I don't know. I believe mamma asked him. She took rather a fancy to him." And is be a' cool captain,' too ?" "No; he's only a sub. And he doesn't like Dar's line at all, though he looks up to him immensely. They call him 'Hebe' in the regiment, because he was quite a child when he joined, and has yellow hair ) and a face that would be like a girl's if it weren't for his moustache and the Indian bronze on it. But he behave splendidly, Dar says, in that horrible mutiny!" Gertie went, on, her pale, delicate little face lighting upas she spoke—" splendidly and bore all the hardship and suffering as carelessly as the oldest soldier there. And then he was awfully wounded, too, poor fellow! And he would have been killed but. for Dar." Altogether, Hebe is rather interesting?" Well, yes," Gertie responded, laughing, but with :he flush on her cheek stiil. And Dar saved his life! How was that ?" Miss Treherne pursued. Well, you know," Gertie answered, neither of them would say much about it. But. he, Mr. Bra- bazon, told me that Dar swam his horse into a river under a heavy fire, and helped him to the bank. when he had been hit, and was just falling from his saddle. He says nothing but Dar's pluck and coolness saved them both, and that Dar ought to have the V.C. He's very quiet and gentle, and at first I thought almost ladylike in his manner. I suppose he hasn't got. strong again yet; but he grew quite excited and elo- quent when he talked about the Don's' (they call Dar the Don,' you know) good-nature in coming in after him. I thought it was all up with me, Miss Fairfax,' ho said to me I was getting dizzy and confused, for I'd been rather badly hit, and couldn't head old Mustapha, my charger, for the bank, as I ought to have dope, and we began going down stream, while the niggers were tAking pot-shots at us quite comfortably from their cover. I felt I should roll out of my saddle in another minute, when I heard the Don's voice close beide" me, and then I knew it would be all right. He brought Mustapha and me out of it, and never got touched himself, though the Pandies blamed away harder than ever all the time, and he was covering me. It was the noblest, thing that eter was done, by Jove it was." So it was !"Miss Treherne said, with a light in her own violet eye, when Gertie had finished her ex- tract from Hebe's narrative; and you quote Mr. Brabazon admirably, dear she added. t Absurd!" the other laughed, administering rather uncalled-for punishment to Damon for breaking the trot. And neither spoke again till they were driving through the High-street at Baddingley. The cousins were more like sisters than some sisters are I wot of. The same age to a day, they had been nearly always together since they left their Paris pension, and never separated for so long a time before as they had done this year, when Gertie Fair- fax had been up to London for her presentation, and had been entered to run the gauntlet of her first season. Helen Treherne's father, the dean, a courtly, clerical grand seigneur, who grew every year more loth to leave the dignified ease and repose of the Cathedral Close, and to miss his darling's fair face and brightening presence from his side for very long, had put off that ordeal in her case till another year. Even as it was, when she came back to Laureston, Gertie had to take dean and deanery by storm, and fight a hardish battle, before she could carry off his aunshine (as the old man loved to call his daughter) for a brie" visit. But Miss Fairfax had a knack of getting her own way in most things, and the dean had to yield, and did. While the ponies were trotting up the sharp rise which leads to Baddingley Station, the express, five mites off, was rushing full. swing down the line bound for the Bame goal. Fast as they were going, and admirably as they have kept time all the way, one of its passengers, lounging on his cushions over Punch and a regalia, was beginning to wax impatient. Deuced slow work this,ain't it, Hebe?' Daryl Fairfax said at last to his companion, a slight, tall, fair-haired Light Dragoon, with a bronze face and a yellow moustache, who was sucking away at a facsimile of the other's cabana. We ought to be there by now." Don't know about slow, you know," Vere Bra- bazon responded done the last six miles in seven minutes and a quarter by my watch. Whereabouts are we? You ought to know, Dar." Daryl Fairfax picked himself up, and looked out of the window. All right!" he there's Baddingley spire. And there's the whist.Je! he added, the next moment, as the engine began to shriek on nearing the junction, Get yourself together, Hebe, and hand us over that gun-case. Can't afford to trust that to any one but myself. Here we are And creaking, and groan- ing, and hissing, the express ran into the station. There was a crowd of people on the platform; but for all the noise and confusion of yelling porters* struggling passengers, gaping, helpless bucolics, and the rest. Vere Brabazon managed to catch a glimpse of a face which had been haunting him all the journey down, and for many a long day before. "I say, Don," he said, flinging away his cigar, there she is 1" Is she ?" responded Dar, with a rug..trap between Ilia teeth. "Who?" v 1 Your sister." "Deuce she is observed Miss Fairfax's brother. Why, I told them to send over the dog-cart for us. At least, you know, I don't think I said anything about. your coming, Vere. I suppose she's come te meet me with the ponies. Here, guard!" And that polite official came hurrying up to unlock the door. Never mind," Dar went on, when the two were on the platform, we'll make room for you somehow. You shall have "the Childe's" perch behind, if Gertie's here alone. Come along In another moment they had emerged from the ruck, and Miss Fairfax's watchful eyes had lighted on them. There they are, Nell!" she said, suddenly. There's Dar, with that gun-case in his hand!" "And 'Hebe' bringing up the rear?" whispered Helen; for the pair were close upon them now. The soubriquet suits him admirably, Gertie But Gertie had moved off to welcome her brother, dutifully. Dear old Dar I'm so glad you've come!" Beau oblige, petite the dear Dar vouchsafed to answer; but I say, I hope you've sent something for us besides your phaeton. I've brought Vere down with me." Oh, indeed," Gertie said, becoming suddenly aware of the existence of such an individual. How do you do, Mr. Brabazon ?" Mr. Brabazon, who had been standing silently by, pulling his yellow moustache, and looking (Helen thought) certainly very "ladylike" and languid, brightened up immediately, and seemed perfectly happy when his fingers closed round the little hand Gertie gave him. There's the dog-cart for you, Dar," his sister said, presently; I'm afraid Helen and I and the Childe quite fill the phaeton, you know." Helen," Dar said—he had been wondering for the last thirty seconds who the blonde-haired girl with the white feather in her hat might be—" 'Helen,' not Cousin Helen." Why not ?" Cousin Helen asked, with a smile and little blush, as she put out her hand to meet Dar's. On the contrary," that individual responded, in somewhat involved speech on the contrary every reason why. Except my failing to recognise you, as I ought to have done, at once. It's—how many years—since we saw each other last ? There is that excuse'for me." And they made their way out of the station by de- grees—Helen and Dar, followed by Gertie and Vere Brabazon—till they came to where "the Childe" stood at the ponies' heads, and conversed affably on the chances of the coming Cambridgeshire," with the groom who had brought over the dog-cart. While the porters were stowing gun-cases and dressing-bags, and other light luggage into the in- terior, the two men stood one on either side of the phaeton when the girls were seated, talking plea- santly. Pleasantly, because Vere and Gertie Fairfax were beginning to understand each other; and because the Don was by no means sorry to discover that "the blonde-ha red girl was Cousin Helen. Little by little he began to identify her with a pet of his some ten years ago, a plucky little women of eight, whom he had taught to sit her first pony, and who had wept such passionate tears one night when a big official letter had come to Laureston, and Cornet Fairfax of Ours was ordered to embark for India and active service forthwith. I He remembered, too, how they had drunk a bumper after dinner to his bon voyage-how the old Squire, the kind, generous governor he was never to see again, had pledged him with a somewhat shaking voice from the head of the long table in the oak dining-room, and prayed God bless his only son— how Cousin Helen had turned white in her muslin robes, and had slipped from her chair and from the room; and how he had discovered her, half an hour afterwards, in the dark library alone, sobbing as though her heart would break. He had called her La Fee Blanche in the eld time, she was so delicately fair and fragile looking. Watching her face now, as it was lifted to his, and as the child's smile seemed to come again upon the lips, and the old. half-grave, half-laughing look to fill the violet eyes, the Don" was, certes, not dis- pleased to discover that time had only ripened that early promise, and that Cousin Helen was very good to look upon, and La Fee Blanche still. So there was a happy ten minutes' talk. For Gertie was at least that time in finding out that her pets were waxing wrath at the delay, and taxing "the Childe's powers of soothing and intimidation to the uttermost. As the phaiton drore off at last, Gertie nodded saucily in adeu, and promising to announce their approach to "my lady" at Laureston, Dar stood watching the white feather in Helen's hat till they had turned the corner, lighting a fresh cigar the while, and thinking how well that velvet toque with its long steamers became her. Floranever looked wellin ahat," he thought, aloud and ungratefully, and she'd never the sense to dis- cover it. Wonder wheiher she's down here, and whether she's likely to be troublesome if she is." By-and-by he and ^"Hebe" were driving towards Laureston in the wake of Gertie's phreton, which, however, as she had told them, they had small chance of overtaking. "We'll shoot the home covers to-morrow, Vere, I'm thinking," Dctr said, as they went along; I hear uncommonly good reports of thpm." "All right," murmured "Hbe," lazily; "there won't be so much tramping to do. That floors me utterly, you know." L izy beggar you are You mean to shut up by lunch-time. Well, we'll send you back in Gertie's charge if you do. She always c rivts to meet us with the vicrcs when we shoot near home, and lunches with us. So there 11 be a fifld amhularcer. ad, for yon if you get put hors-de-combat." ''Capital arrangement." asserted Vere, making up his mind to be utterly exhausted bv the a teri oon "morning's always enough for me, you krow. I aint eo enthusiastic as some iellows the afternoon birds." In point of fact H be v as n good deal too indolent to care much sor any tpjrt thit involved long-protracted physical exertion, and detested walk- ing above all things. And he t ad b wn rathur dread- ing long days over the sti bbUs and the turnip* f r wild conveys without parh^ps a glimpse ot Fairfax till dinner-tim- The prospect seemed brighter now a ter the Don's," his liege lord's announ •• ment, ana Vere pulled away at bis eternal cab-inn Wiiii renewed energy. "Yes," pursued Dar, stiil busy w,th his progr mme for his opening day, that will be a lair morn ng's work. Shoot up to Thicket, n; lunch in the Hoddesdons wood under the jCn" Oak: mee, their keepers, there, and keep the (lying fields for the afternoon. Thnt'U do «ip<rally^" "The H dde«lins?" "He e" asked. "lothey live hi re ?" "There's th ir p ac," Dar said, if kin » hjs whip towards a tall chimneytd fice on a r sing gr< und we've j"st pas ed th-ir lodge-gates. ou kno.v 'em, don t you ?" "Mademoiselle—all, dark girl. with good eyes. Yes, I know her." well, jon kn, w all that's necesfary if you know Flora. She rules,\ou know, jgnorts Madame Mere altogether, ex(ept us a cliap« ron." "By the vay, Dar, hJiin't jou tomitliing on with the daughter this season ? I h ar J something about you two." "My dear boy; no! Flora an-i Inre very food friends, 1 believe. That's all. She's not the sort I should tver think ser ou^ly abo t. In act I never met a woman who wss jet. Ours is a very platonic business, and I mean it. to remain mst that," "Tantpis pour elle!" thought "Hebe." "Shouldn't like a plaipmc friendship, that was never to be any- thing more, to exist between the Don and a sister of mine, if I had one. I know." And then he fell to thinking about the state of things between himself and Gertie Fairfax, and to wonder what his own chances were in the little game he felt it would be bitterly hard to give up, or to lose now. His chances! A ton, living, he couldn't tellyou exactly how, on his younger son's portion of,a few hundred plus pay and allowances, what thence had he of winning a dowered belle like Gertie? He loved her, poor boy! he couldn't help that, but he doubted often very sorely, in his odd times of reflection, whether he loved wisely. 8he might like him to valse with—" Hebe knew that, despite his indolence, natural and acquired, be could steer a valseuse through an ugly crush, or swing her round a croivded circle as few of the Light Brigade coulc* do—and she mighi n't object to have him by her side in her morning canter in the Row, and she might bow and smile pleasantly enough to him when be doffed his hat to heir irr the Ring. But didehe really care for him? Would ahe listen to him one day? Would his love win her ? And even if it did, would her people let her fling herself away upon a penniless sub, with nothing but his sabre to depend on ? ° Sometimes, when these considerations and doubts presented themselves to him very strongly And disagreeably, poor Hebe" was fain to bite his yellow moustache savagely; and, groaning in the spirit, to wish the dtiice he hadn't applied for that confounded sick-leave, and almost make up his mind to report himself well at once, and rejoin Ours that winter at Amberabad, N. W. P.; and then find a dozen unanswerable reasons for staying on, and hug his chains the closer, and ask for that extra fast dance, and, perhaps, while the Clicquot was hissing and sparkling in his tumbler, persuade himself that he really had some chance of pulling off the race after all. Going to bed, or to finish the night at the Rag, with the recollection of Gertie's •mite and the carriage, haunting him still, and with a happy though hazv notion that it would all come right somehow perhaps." But there were times when sophistry of this sort was powerless to soothe him. as now. Aud SO sat behind his big cigar answering such observations as his companion vouchsafed him in languid mono- ayllablear but sorrowful at. heart, and inclined to curse the folly whinh had made him accept so grate- fully Dar's invitati on to come down to L:I\¡!1.n the first, and the greater folly he had committed in coming down to play moth to the dangerous flame that had singed his wings desperately already. At)d yet okinvt! and yet !—She had looked adorable when he saw her at the station. She had welcoir.ed so kindly and so frankly, that surely he would ha,ve been an idiot to miss seeing her, and the rest of it. "Hebe's" cogitations described thoir wont cd circl, and came back to their old starting-point as usual. (To be continued*)





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