Hide Articles List

10 articles on this Page



[No title]


[No title]




[No title]

_-[ALL BIGHTS RESERVED.] i.osaura…


[ALL BIGHTS RESERVED.] i.osaura A TALE OF LOVE AND TRAVEL BY LADY STELLA KIRKLAND, AUTHOR OF The Lilies of Helen," Ulric," c., #c. CHAPTER I. I IT was a cold, starlit night, and Lord Somerville wandered aimlessly about the old-fashioned Spanish streets of Paerte, striving in vain to banish from his memory the witching strains of a woman's voice. He was making a tour of Spain, previous to returning to his ancestral halls in England, where he intended shortly to settle down to the pleasurable pursuits of a country gentleman. But now, after having escaped for thirty-three years the wiles and arts of Cupid, he is fain to confess himself in the toils of the blind god at last. On the previous night, Lord Somerville had gone to the little theatre of Puerte, to wile away an idle hour, and had there surrendered his heart, almost uncon- sciously to himself, to an unknown actress. When he had entered, a woman's voice filled the theatre with song; and, on glancing towards the stage, he found that it belonged to the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Even as he gazed spell-bound upon her, she turned towards him, her dark Spanish eyes, full of melancholy, met his, and his whole soul went out in passionate admiration to the beautiful cantatrice before him. Seating himself near the stage, he listened to her sing- ing with rapt attention, and he noticed that the dark Spanish eyes were fixed upon him, as the singer en- deavoured with the splendour of her voice to make some impression upon him. And she succeeded well, for he loved music with a deep devotion, and hers was a voice whose equal he had never before heard. He gazed, as if under a spell, into those eyes of midnight hue, where the fire of a passionate soul seemed slumbering; and when the curtain fell he hastened out, and stood with a crowd of watchers at the stage door. She soon appeared, leaning on the arm of a young Spaniard, whose eyes were fixed in rapt adoration upon her face. Lord Somerville watched them disappear down the narrow streets, then turned away with feelings of jealousy in his heart. That night his dreams were haunted by the dark eyes of the actress, and on awaking he made a mental vow that he would see her again and discover who she was. The night found him wandering up and down, outside the little theatre. As the town clock struck eleven, she once more emerged from the little side door, leaning lightly upon the arm of her companion of the previous night. Lord Somerville stood near her, and as she passed him she looked into his eyes for a moment, with an expression half mocking and half defiant. In a moment the young Englishman made up his mind to follow her. He felt he must speak with this splendid creature-hear that ex- quisite voice once again. After going about a quarter of a mile, her hand still on the Spaniard's arm, she stopped before a shabby house, and, motioning him to enter, turned away, saying in a voice loud enough for the English- man to hear: Nay, Lorenzo, go in and tend your sick father. I wish to be alone to-night. My heart seems on fire with a thousand wishes, and I do not care to talk nonsense with you." The man, muttering an angry reply, turned hastily away and entered the house, the door of which had been only partly closed. As he disappeared in the dark passage, she sighed, and walked on alone for a few minutes then stood still until the Englishman came up to her. When he reached her side she turned to him, and in a seemingly angry voice de- manded-" Signor, why do you follow me? A glance tells me that you are an aristocrat; what can the like of you want with a poor Spanish girl, whose face is her only fortune ?" The tone of bitterness touched the heart of Lord Somervilie, and he replied, in tones of respect, Senora, surely one who has the rare good fortune to possess a voice like yours cannot but consider her- self a very queen amongst women I" She laughed mockingly. "Alas, signor, 'twere better we poor women, who are doomed to poverty from our cradle, should have neither beauty nor talent. Our talents, when we possess any, expose us to temptations that dulness would never meet with and our beauty is only that of the butterfly or the Bower-as soon as it is touched by the world, its brilliance begins to fade." You speak with great sarcasm of the world, senora. I trust its sting has not been implanted in the heart of one so young." He had been walking slowly by her side, and won- dering inwardly what manner of woman this could be. Signor," she said, I had a sister, beautiful as a summer dream, who left her home and travelled to far-off England to make her fortune by her voice. Do you know what her fate was ?" Her eyes seemed to flash fire as she spoke. Nay, I could hardly tell what her fate was. But, senora, if her voice was as melodious and entrancing as yours, it should have won her respect ana fortune." Respect and fortunel" she cried mockingly. Yes, signor, this was the respect she—the poor Spaniard—met with in your stately England. A rich young nobleman stole her hot and innocent heart, took advantage of her imperfect knowledge of his cold language, married her after his own fashion, and then sent her home to die at the poor mother's door one winter's night-long, long ago. I was but ten years old; but I have not forgotten." It is a sad story," said the Englishman, gently; but one, unfortunately, too often repeated all over this miserable earth." She did not appear to heed him, but continued, as if speaking to herself: Yes-an outcast, miserable and scorned, her beauty tarnished, and her voice de- stroyed with tears, and sickness, and sorrow—now silenced for ever in the tomb." She had reached a dark and gloomy-looking house that was only lighted by a sickly oil lamp, fastened to the wall outside, and turning to him, was in the act of bidding him a hasty good-night, when he stopped her abruptly, saying: Senora, pardon my presumption in detaining you, and believe me when I tell you that I have never treated your sex but with respect and honour, and would therefore wish to become your friend. You have no idea how entran- cing your voice seems to me, nor the happiness I ex- perienced while listening to it last night. Can you forget that I belong to a nation that mur" be distaste- ful to you for the memories it must awaken, and grant me the favour of once more hearing you sing before I leave your sunny land ? Believe me, if ever it lies in my power to atone in any way for the sorrow of your sister, you shall not command me in vain." As he ceased, a gleam of triumph shone in her eyes, 'and turning, she said, in a slightly tremulous voice, Signor, if you are really so desirous of hear- ing me sing once more, come here to-morrow even- ing. But," she added, with a sudden thrill of pas- sion, remember this-that I am unlike other women in my nature, and if :ever regret should enter your soul for having met with me, do not forget that I warned you beforehand. So go your way, signor; you look good as well as noble, and I would fain save you from yourself." He laughed lightly, his admiration and interest were only more keenly 4wakened. "Beautiful lady," he said, I am no schoolboy, to be easily frightened, and even if, when I entered your house, you gave me a draught cf poison instead of wine, I could die happy if your sweet voice sang my dirge." You nave a flattering tongue," she said, with a mournful smile, but you may come again, and hear Ine sing; yet remember—there is a poison that kills the soul often, whilst the body lives on in pain that w worse than death. Good night, signor; and the next moment she had pushed open the door, and dis- appeared within. He stood for some moments watching the dark «Dd lonely-looking house, and turned slowly away, WOA 6uing deeP]y what manner of woman she was. As she wandered home to his hotel, through the narrow and crooked streets, the stars disappeared from the sky, a hollow wind whistled ground the weird-looking houses, extinguishing of the oil lamps on the walls, and a few flakes of snow began to fall. Her last ominous words seemed to echo and re- echo in his very soul: Do not forget that there is a poison that kills the soul, whilst the body still lives on in pain that is worse than death." What did she mean ? he asked himself again and again; but the melancholy wind, whistling through the narrow street, was the only answer he received. CHAPTER II. I THK next evening the young nobleman made his way through the narrow streets to the Spaniard's dwelling. He knocked lightly at the door, which was opened by an old woman with keen dark eyes and snow- white hair. She looked sharply at him for a moment, holding the lamp she carried high above her head. He saw at once by the resemblance she bore to the young cantatrice that this must be her mother. I have not the pleasure of knowing your name, donna," he said: but your daughter has done me the honour of inviting me to your house, and I trust you will regard me ns a frfend, even though I am an Englishman," and he offered his hand to the old woman with a pleasant suiUe. A look, as of pain, came into her eyes as he spoKe but she gave him her hand freely as she replied, "Come in, signor, yon nre welcome. Mv daughter, Rosaura, has informed me of your desire to hear her sing once more. Our name is Cousina," she said signi- ficantly, with some bitterness, as if she expected an English nobleman would not reveal his name. My name, Donna Cousina, is Igric Somerville," htJ answered simply, and at my father's death they bestowed the title of lord' on me." The ofa woman bowed slightly, and led him into a prettily-furnished parlour, where a wood fire was burning brightly upon the hearth. My daughter will be home directly," she said; "she is still at the theatre, but it must have closed before this, and she cannot be much longer away." Even as she spoke, Rosaura entered the room, looking like a very queen of the night, with her lace mantilla fastened by a high comb, and banging in graceful folds over her shoulders. Lord Somerville rose. I trust you will forgive my early arrival, senora," he said, but I have already made acquaintance with Donna Cousina, your mother, and I hope her daughter will accord me a welcome also." You are most welcome," she replied, with a bright smile that disclosed two rows of pearly teeth. Then drawing her hand away from his too warm clasp, she opened a little press, and spreading a snowy cloth on the table, placed wine, fruit, and cakes before him, inviting him to the repast with winning grace. Supper over, she took her guitar and sang song after song for him, with such passion and sweetness that he felt his soul steeped in delight; and when a neighbouring clock struck the twelve solemn strokes of midnight, he started to his feet in surprise, ex- claiming, Can it be possible it is twelve o'clock ? I have been here over two hours, and yet it seems as if scarce half an hour has elapsed since I entered the house." Rosaura threw her guitar aside with a rippling laugh. You flatter my poor abilities, milord.' I may come again soon, Donna Cousina ?" he said inquiringly, turning to the old woman, and taking her withered fingers in his strong hand. She gave a warm assent, and then he took the white hand of the Spaniard, and thanked her over and over again for the delightful evening he had spent. You will be pleased to see me again ?" he asked, looking into her beautiful black eyes with an expression no woman had ever seen in his face before. Yes," she answered softly, and he noticed that she grew pale as marble beneath his gaze. You are tired," he continued gently, and I have had no con- sideration to keep you singing for my amusement all this time. Pray forgive me, senora." It was a pleasure for me also, milord," she answered, with a slight touch of weariness in her roice. We shall be always glad to see you whilst you remain in Puerte." Which I hope will be for a long time," he made answer; and now good-night." And once more he took the white hand tenderly in his own. A few moments later he was gone; and as the door closed after him, the smile vanished from Rosaura's face, and turning to her mother she asked bitterly: Well, my mother, what do you think of the English lordling ?" He looks to be a good, as well as a rich man, my child," replied the old woman thoughtfully, as she gazed into the dying embers of the fire with a sad expression in her faded eyes. What, my mother ? Are you going to lose your heart to the proud English lord ?" and there was a ring of bitter irony in her voice. Nay, nay, my child," replied the elder woman, wearily but I am growing old, and the burning desire for revenge is leaving my heart. Fain would I think it were so with you also, Rosaura." My mother," said the girl, sadly, I have no wish to turn your thoughts from heaven; but for me, I shall never forget the night when I ran to the door, full of glee, to hear the joy-bells ringing for the Christmas dawn, and found dying on the door-step the sister who had loved me; or the horror of that night when she related, with her dying breath, the story of treachery and wrong and cruelty that had driven her home an outcast I Mother," she continued, almost in frenzy, tell on your beads from morning till night, and prepare to meet her beyond the skies. Mine shall be the task to avenge her I" The old woman shuddered, and crouching closer over the fire, muttered to herself, God pardon me for having encouraged that wild spirit of revenge, and may He stand between this fierce spirit and the ruin in which she would involve so bright and promising a future I" Then turning to Rosaura, she continued with great earnestness, My child, I am growing old and feeble, and when the feet stand on the brink of the grave, the mind can see things of earth more clearly, because they have] no longer influence over the heart or brain. Listen patiently to me for a moment. The nobleman who supped here this evening will learn to love you with the whole fervour of his manhood, and will offer you honourable marriage. Accept him, my child, and let that atone for the sins of his country- man who brought so much sorrow upon us in the past." Ah, my mother," she replied, what you say may be true. I love Lorenzo; yet I am determined to f-eacli Lord Somerville to.love me, and possibly induce t:m to marry me, that, through him, I may more easily discover the man who betrayed my sister-the black-hearted Sir Dallas Moreton I" Then, after a moment's pause, she continued with a laugh of forced gaiety, And oh, my mother, think what a triumph it will be to reign a queen amongst those fair English dolls I How, with my beauty arrayed in jewels and lace, I shall sweep scornfully amongst them, and smile to see them grow pale with envy I" Hush, hush, my child," cried the old woman faintly; that passionate heart of thine will wreck thy whole life, and thy future shall be as cold and dark as yonder wintry sky." And she tottered from the room, with bowed head and shaking form. Rosaura approached the window, and looking up to the black sky, where not a star was visible, cried bitterly from the depths of her passionate heart, Oh, my Lorenzo I love thee with all the burning fervour of my Soul, and yet I shall not wed thee, for I vowed this wild heart to vengeance long, long ago. And yet, ere I seal my fate with the Englishman, my heart shall be broken But enough," she exclaimed with a fierce gesture "I shall forget soon I ever had a woman's nature, and in yonder far-off England I shall live only for ambition-and revenge I" CHAPTER III. CHRISTMAS had gone, and the spring flowers were peeping above the brown earth, and still Lord Somer- ville lingered in the little town of Puerte. He had learned to love the proud Spanish girl with all the strength of his manhood, and his one ardent desire was to win her for his wife. And she—Rosaura—did she appreciate the affec- tion of her noble and generous suitor ? No; strange to say, she had grown to hate him with a bitterness that she could hardly account for, even to herself. But the thirst for revenge had so ingrafted itself into her nature, that she was determined to wed the Englishman, so that she might go with him to his own country, and there devote her life to discover Sir Dallas Moreton, and endeavour to wreak some revenge upon him that would be more bitter than death. But she hid her thoughts deep down in hei heart, as she wandered day after day in the green spring woods, listening to the words of love Lord Somerville poured in her ear. Her former lover, Lorenzo, who had also been the playmate of her childhood, she had dismissed; in a fit of passion and despair he had left Puerte, and for some months she had neither seen nor heard from him. It was evening, and the silver stars were already in the sky. Rosaura had been wandering all day, in a deep forest outside the town, and returned home weary in body and mind. On entering the little parlour she found Lord Somerville awaiting her coming. As she approached him, extending her soft white hand to him, he came eagerly towards her, and clasping both her hands in his, cried with a sudden impulse, Oh, my Rosaura, how beautiful, but how sad you look! This life is unsuited for one like you. Change it—or rather give me the power to change it for you. Be my loved and honoured wife, Rosaura, and let me take you to hapDV England, where you will be the courted queen of our aristocracy." His usually calm patrician face was lighted up with sudden ardour; the blue eyes were glowing and filled with longing, and as he held her cold hands in his, he tried to look into the downcast face, and read his fate in her eyes. She was as cold md motionless as a statue of marble, except that her bosom heaved with suppressed emotion. He asked the question again, with a ring of pain in his voice Aftera moment's struggle with her heart,, she raised. her eyes to his face, and said: If Lord Somerville can forget that it is poor Rosaura, the Spaniard, he would take to his home and his heart, then she will consent to be his wife." With the rapture of pure and deep love he drew her to his breast, covering her face with kisses, and promising her a future of wealth, honour, and happi- ness, in his beautiful English home. When his ardour had subsided a little, he looked doubt- fully into the pale, half-averted face, asking—" But my Rosaura, my beautiful queen, do you not love me a little in return? Why these pale, cold looks? Why do you turn away from my embrace 1" Milord," she replied, wjth an effort at com- posure, I cannot yet forget that I am only Rosaura, the poor Spanish maid, and that you are Lord Somerville." The reply satisfied him, and drawing her gently towards him, he said softly, You shall soon forgot, my Rosaura, when you find yourself the worshipped queen of our aristocracy, with a coronet on that marble brow." Her face flushed, and a light of triumph shone in her eyes, for was not her ambition about to be gratified ? and oh how she pictured to herself the regal splendour with which she should be surrounded in the land she was going to. But a crushing sense of misery overwhelmed her as she thought of the man she so passionately loved; and when Lord Somerville had gone, after a tender and lingering Good night "-before the warmth of his kisses had died on her lips-she flung herself face downwards on the ground, and sobbed and moaned in anguish of heart and mind-" Oh, my Lorenzo my lost, lost love I" she cried aloud. Oh, Santa Jesu 1 has my punishment already commenced?" For a few minutes she lay there, exhausted by the violence of her passion; and ao absorbed was she that she did not hear the door open, nor see the dark figure of a man enter the room, and advanced slowly until he stood looking down at her. Rosaura!" It was the only word he uttered but oh, the magic of that voice. With a low cry she arose and stood facing him, with swollen eyes and dishevelled hair, but still as beautiful in grief and tears as when rippling laughter made her face like a picture of sunshine. The'man before her was her lover, Lorenzo. He drew her into his arms with a gesture of despairing love, kissed the tears from her dark eyes, for he knew that it must be some deep sorrow that could thus move her. Oh, my love 1" he cried, in the flowery language of Spain, why those bitter tears ? Wilt thou not confide in thv Lorenzo, whose heart is a fountain of love for his Rosaura ?" Lorenzo," she replied, in calm despair, Rosaura is no longer thine, for this night she nas promised to wed the English lord." His arms fell from around her, whilst his face grew hard and cold as stone. Just God, it cannot be true I" he cried, stagger- ing backwards as if he had received a blow. It is too true," she answered firmly. You already know most of my reasons for the step I am about to take. You know also that I have loved you since the happy days of our childhood, when we wandered in the summer meadows, and you twined garlands of flowers for my childish brow, teaching this wild heart to love you with all its first pure and deep devotion. But oh, Lorenzo, we must part!— we must part for ever! My determination is unalter- able. I shall wed the English lord. Be merciful to me, and leave me to struggle in solitude with the demon that is raging in my soul. Never can I be yours-but never shall I be his, save in name." The young Spaniard looked at her, the file that was consuming his heart almost reflected in his eyes. He was tall and handsome, with a pure olive skin and curling dark hair; but there was a look of devilry in the full, dusky eyes, that showed what this man could be capable of doing were he once thoroughly aroused. After a long pause he forced her to meet his gaze, and the haughty woman trembled when she saw in his eyes the reflection of the fierce passion* that were raging in his soul. Rosaura," he said, with bloodless but composed lips, I well know when once you have determined upon anything, that even fate itself cannot change your resolution; but I know also that you have played with the heart of the man beforeyou. You drove me from your presence withcold and cutting words when last I sought you, and since then I have been a wanderer in distant lands, eating out my very heart in despair. I could not forget you, and I have returned, but only to lose you more completely than before. Yet, think that /am to be cheated so. No !—I oan bide my time. You love me, too," he continued passionately, and therein lies my power over you. Go wed your cold lover; avenge the sister who was betrayed. For that I honour you-it is your duty, for we Spaniards can never forget an insult. But when that is accom- plished, I shall seek you again; and remember these, the last words I shall say to you until we meet again, you will yet be mine She did not reply, even when he took her once more in his arms, and gazed long and passionately deep down into her dusky eyes, pressing his lips in a lingering farewell to hers. Then, without a murmur, he released her, and almost flung her from him. Had he looked back as he hastened from the room, he would have seen her standing like a frozen statue of despair, with her arms outstretched towards him, though her lips were powerless even to utter his name. And thus they parted. (To be Continued.)