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) [All R-tchts frescswcf/.l THE TEMPTATION OF ADRIAN NORREYS. BY JULIAN ASHTON. AUTHOR OF Lovd's Reward, A Spirit's Curse,$c., 10. CHAPTER I. I THE WELL-BELOVED." Tell us of Life, and Love's young dream, Show the prismatic soul of Woman Bring back the Light whose morning .beam, First made the Beast erect and Human." Robert Buchanan- OLGA, Olga she's come. The carriage is coming up the drive now." The new governess, Elsie P" Yes, the new governess. Oh, I do wonder what she is iiKe. Mamma has kept it all so very secret. I cau t think why. Wouldn't even let us see her photo- graph. I do hope she isn't tall and plain. I do hope she won't call us 'my dears,' as that horrid Miss Smythe did. It would be so dslightful to have a nice governess, one who would be a companion to us in- stead of a schoolmistress." You need a schoolmistress just now more than a com panion, Elsie de, "said her elder sister, stroking the long fair hair of the child as she spoke. You can't write a letter without dreadful mistakes in the -spe,ilixig; you can hardly speak grammatically, I'm arraid and, above all, don't you think that the kind of governess you ought to have is one whom you should be a little afraid ef, instead of a companion to you ?" No, I doa't, there, protested Elsie Norreys with a pout. I should hate her, as I did Miss Smythe. But I'd do anything for a teacher I loved, and wouid slave at my lessons to please her. But I say, Olga, do let s run up to the house, and see what's she's like. It's no use guessing when we can find out in a minute for ourselves." Olga rose from the garden seat where she had been resting after a rather long walk, and followed Elsie to the house. The sisters were a pretty couple. Elsie, just eight years old, with merry blue eyes and long fair hair, full of animation, was a curious con- trast to Olga. The latter was seven years older than her sister, with lovely deep brown eyes and hair, and e, thoughtful look on the young face. In fact, Mrs. Norreys' friends always spoke of Olga as old for her years," and the remark was true. She was a great reader, and took a deep interest in many sub- jects which girls of her age have not dreamed of touching, even in these days of advanced education. Mrs. Norreys was a widow. Her husband, General Norreys, C.B., was killed in the Crimean War. The sorrow of want, however, was not added to the sorrow of bereavement, as the General was a fairly rich man, and his widow was not without good private means of her own. So they continued to live on in the handsome country house in Yorkshire, some three miles from Scarborough, close to the sea coast, and conveniently near the village railway station. Miss Norreys preferred to conduct the education of her two girls at home, and the last governess proving unsatisfactory a new one was engaged. It was her arrival which had so excited the curiosity of Elsie, and it must be admitted, in some degree, that of Olga also. The carriage had deposited the new governess and her trunks in the hall, and driven round to the stables by the time the two girls reached the house. But Mrs. Norreys had already conducted her guest upstairs to her room with that gentle kindness which made her loved by all who knew her. So Olga and Elsie had to wait in the drawing-room for a while, and curb their impatience as well as they could. A little tabie bore the materials for afternoon tea, and thoughtful Olga noticed that the cream was absent. Ringing the bell, she desired the parlourmaid to bring it, but before the girl could leave the room, Elsie addressed her eagerly: Have you seen her, Kate: what is she like. Do tell me." Olga was on the point of checking her sister's im- petuosity, but Kate willingly answered. She seems a very nice young lady, Miss Elsie, but rather shy and nervous, with her strange haste and such like. But she is such a little thing." Little ? Kate," said Olga, her own curiosity fairly roused. Yes, miss, I was quite amused when 1 first see her. I don't think she can be more than five feet high, and—but she's coming," and as Kate disap- peared through ihe door Mrs. Norreys and the new governess entered. Olga, and you, Elsie, dear, this is Mias M'Keith, said their mother. Welcome her to Ashburnford." How do you do, Miss M'Keith ?" said Olga, pleasantly, I hope you are not very tired with the long journey." And as she uttered the words she thought inwardly, "What a dear little lady she seems. I am sure I shall like her extremely." And I'm very glad to see you, Miss M'Keith," cried Elsie, impulsively. I've such pretty places in the woods to show you, and you'll like my rabbits, I know." While Elsie's inward criticism was, Oh, the darling, I shall love her so much, I know I shall." Yes, the children's estimate was right. Vida M'Keith was only five feet in height, but formed in such perfect symmetery that there was not the slightest suggestion of "dwarfishness." On the con- trary, the exquisite figure, lovely brunette face, per- fect reiinement of manner, and sweet, musical voice, all combined to impress you with the idea that the dainty little creature was just what she should be, as an almost ideal, certainly very loveable woman. She took the girls by the hand in turn and kissed them affectionately. There were traces of tears on her face, though she had endeavoured to remove them before she came down. But they occasionally showed themselves again, glittering on her long eyelashes like crystals. Yet they were tears of happiness, the uncontrollable tokens of deep thankfulness of finding herself in such very different surroundings to what she had feared. For when Mrs. Norreys had herself conducted the timid girl to the dainty little room which was to be her own—tastefully furnished, looking out on a lovely prospect of hill and dale, wood, and blue sea— had assisted her to lay aside her travelling cloak, and expressed the hope that she would be very happy among them, poor Vida, completely overcome by auch unlooked-for and motherly kindness, could only east her arms round Mrs. Norreys' neck, and burst out crying for sheer gladness. She had been afraid of encountering coldness, perhaps unkindness, and here she found herself in a second home. No wonder she was still agitated, and scarcely mistress of herself. But tears of happiness do not remain so long as tears of sorrow. The smile soon came back to Vida's gentle face, and when the dainty refresh- ment of afternoon tea was handed round shb felt more composed and able to join freely and merrily in the conversation. Yes, that is the portrait of my son Adrian," said Mrs. Norreys, answering an inquiring glance of Vida's. "He is at Cambridge, but comes home on Wednesdey; he has just finished his University course. He took his B.A. last week, passing very well. I don't wonder you suspected it was my son's picture, people say he is wonderfully like me." The likeness was wonderful. There were the same deep piercing eyes, the same straight, delicately- shaped nose, small mouth, and earnest, thoughtful gaze. The heavy moustache, of course, introduced a distinct feature in the countenance, otherwise the resemblance was marvellously close. "And he is such a duck,' cried Elsie, eagerly. Everybody likes him, and Lucy Renwick said the other day that no girl could be with him long with- out falling in love with him, and My dear Elsie," interrupted her mother. You little tell tale. Besides, you must learn not to repeat such things, they are not for a little girl like you to hear." But it's true, mamma," protested Elsie. She did say it, and when I asked her if she was in love herself with Adrian, she laughed and said, Of course but he won't have anything to say to me, worse luck.' So there, mamma." Mrs. Norreys smiled, but Vida's quick perception enabled her to see instinctively that the mother was very fond and proud of her son and that she was not really displeased at knowing that he was so universally admired. What do you think of her, Olga?" said Elsie in a half whip per, when Mrs. Norreys and Vida left the room shortly afterwards. "I think she is very nice," replied Olga, quietly. "She will be a charming companion for me, even though she is my governess, and older than I am I am sure we shall all like her very much. Like her-love her, you mean," cried Elsie. And you and me and she (Elsie's defiance ot grammar always showed itself most strongly when she WEl; excited) will be sisters, and she'll be like another daughter to mamma; and oh, I say, Olga, I do belieye she'll really be our sister and mamma's daughter some day, for if Adrian doesn't fall in love with her and marry her, I'll—well, I'll think it a. miracle." You foolish child," said her sister. "Miracles don't happen now; so don't talk nonsense. And Adrian has something else to do than fall in love with every face be meets." Ah, but suppose he can't help it?" suggested Elsie. Well, we'll see." CHAPTER II. CHAINED—NOT JOINED-TOGETHER. THE Melbourne Theatre was doing good business. London managers had grumbled it the baduess of the season; but Mr. Harold ^*»'ners laughed at tile complaints of his brethren. It's their own fault; and yet they try to lay the blame on the public," he remarked to his stage manager, over a glass of very dry sherry in his private room at the theatre. Give people a good play, and you'll get good houses. I don't even put much trust in wonderful scenery and effects. Of course, these set off a play, and are not to be despised, but, after all, what is it that fetches the public. Real life on the stage, with .its joys and sorrows, its tempta- tions and trials. Their sympathy is fired by that; the most, ignorant and uncultivated feel the power of that, though they couldn't put it into fine language. That's the secret of how to fill your house." Well, you seem to have found your good play this time, sir," replied his faithful employe, for Temptation and Triumph is just filling us to the doors every night." And is a proof of what I said," returned the manager, filling himself another glass, and pushing the decanter across to his friend. No scenic effects, no startling novelties, only three sets-a country scene, a drawing-room, and the deck of a yacht, that's all. And yet how the piece takes. Because it's human nature. A man has made a very foolish marriage, secretly, and is led away by impulse and passion, which he mistakes for love. The fatal awakening and repentance soon follows. He would give anything to be free, but he is bound. His wife —a bad lot—offers to let him marry the girl he has fallen in love with, and swears she will never betray him; all this for a handsome consideration, of course. He knows he can trust her, for it is her own interest to keep dark. Shall he make himself and the girl happy for life, or not? and it's just the working out of that question which so interests people that they are crowding to see it." The acting is good, that's another point, sir. Miss De Cuizen plays the wife splendidly. I wonder if the same plot often happens in real life ?" Going on at this very minute, my dear follow, in numbers of cases that you and I know nothing of. But you must be going downstairs now, the doors are open. What a row. Hear them strug- gling into the pit and gallery." Mr. Harold Somers was quite right. The theatre was filling fast. In a few minutes after the doors were opened the popular parts of the house were crowded as usual, and the audience waited with patience till the lights should go up, the band com- mence, and the great green curtain ascend on the first scene. As the occupants of boxes, dress circle, and stalls began to come, a little before the time fixed for com- mencing, a tall, and very good-looking, young man strolled in the dress circle and found his way to an excellent seat in the front row, but rather towards the left side of the stage. He smiled as he noticed the occupant of the seat on his right. Ah, Norreys, old fellow, you here; there is good luck. Run up from Cambridge ?" Yes," replied Adrian Norreys, lazily dropping into his comfortable stall. I'm in town for three days before going home, came up partly on business. Heard a lot about this piece, and thought I might as well spend the evening here as anywhere.' Carelessly said, but the young man's cheek flushed slightly as he spoke. Adrian abhorred deception and falsehood; his upright honourable nature de- tested evasion and equivocation. Yet he found him- self obliged (as he thought) to practise these hateful failings now while he loathed himself for doing it. He dared not tell his friend that there was one theatre, and one only, in all London which he cared to visit; still less would he have admitted that there was one woman at that theatre with a claim upon him. That theatre was the Melpanene, that woman, Miss Sybil Clare, the leading lady. Well, you'll see a good piece and good acting, returned his friend. there's a fine situation in the third act, and Sybil Clare plays it well. I saw the play last week, and like many other people, felt I must see it again. But how did you manage t) get, a dress circle seat for to-night, old man ? They're booking three and four weeks in advance, and I shouldn't have thought one was to be got at a few hours' notice for love or money." Quite right; but I had a piece of luck. This stall ticket was returned to the box office yesterday by the owner, with instructions to re-sell it if possible. There was no difficulty in that; only I was very for- tunate to get it." No doubt of it. But there's the curtain going up. Now you'll see for yourself, and I shall be curious to know what you think of London's new actress." The first scene of the really powerful play which was stirring the metropolis of that day opened very quietly. A country lane, with a distant view of the village of Rockvenow. Spencer Farleigh, a young artist from London, is staying at the village for the sake of painting a lovely bit of scenery, wood, water, and hill, which lies close to it. This picture he hopes to have accepted by the Academy next May. A figure is wanted for the foreground, and meeting with Susette Clarke, a farmer's daughter, he asks her to be his model. Susette is rather a remarkable girl. She has received an education beyond her position ia life, is possessed of striking beauty, though of a bold, vigorous type; and has a large share of natural shrewdness, not to say cunning. Disgusted with the dreary prospect of life in a vil- lage, tUe determines to seize this opportunity of escape, 9tnd endeavour to capture the rising young London artist. She sets herself to fascinate him, and he, who has hitherto been devoted only to his art, falls an easy prey. Carried away by impulse and passion, which he mistakes for love, he secretly marries Susette, and the seeds of temptation and triumph are sown. In the second act, re-action has come. Spencer Farleigh and his wife, after their secret marriage, had spent a fortnight in remote parts of the Tyrol, but, short as the honeymoon was, it proved enough to develop irreconcilable differences of taste and habits. A mutual separation is agreed upon, Farleigh making his wife an allowance of two-thirds of his income, willing to undergo any sacrifice if he can only live alone. She takes up her residence in Brighton, he returns to London. None know of their marriage except the officials at the registry office in Switzerland, where the marriage took place: Farleigh rises in fame and wealth, and would be content if it were not for the secret chain which binds him to his wife. Then a great sorrow is added to his burden. He falls madly in love with a beautiful young girl whose portrait he has painted. His affection is re- turned, but their union, of course, is impossible, though he dare not tell her the true reason. In the third act, Farleigh's wife has by some underhand means become possessed of the knowledge of her husband's lost affection. Far from reproach- ing him, she offers to keep the fact of their marriage a lifelong secret. No living soul shall ever know it. He may marry the girl he loves without the slightest fear of exposure, Susette is absolutely indifferent as to what he does, if only he will make her a largely- increased allowance, which he is now well able to afford. This is his temptation and the scene where he hesitates, and the unscrupulous wife plies him hard with specious arguments in favour of her offer. But triumph follows on temptation, and Spencer Farleigh, though sorely tried, resolves to follow the path of duty and honour. In the whole of that crowded audience, there was not one who followed the play with such intense, painful interest as Adrian Norreys. There were times when he completely forgot that he was in the theatre; and only saw the enactment of a real life draaia. As the curtain fell on the termination of the piece, amidst a roar of applause, and the two chief personages, Spencer and Susette, came forward to receive a well-deserved oration, Adrian's friend re- marked carelessly: Does it well, don't she ? I say, see the wedding- ring on her finger; it's plain enough through my opera-glasses." o You forget she is playing the part of a married woman," said Adrian. Sharp, my dear fellow very sharp. But I don't think it's only a part of the get up. I met her the other afternoon at Lord Esterhaugh's. They were having private theatricals, and he'd engaged her at an awful expense to take the leading lady's part; he grudges nothing for his private stage. She was playing a young girl's part then, and others besides myself particularly noticed that she wore a wed- ding ring. There's something in that, I'll lay long odds. odds." (To be Continued.)




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