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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] WHICH WAS THE HEIRESS? OR, THE CURSE OF ADRIAN BLAIR. BY EDITH C. KE, NYON, jLuihor of JacJds Cousin Kate," The Squire of Lonsdale" "A Poor Relation," etc. etc. CHAPTER XXI. THE PRISONER IN THE CELLAR. MRS. J ONES had been young herself; she had tender recollections of the days when her Jamie used to come courting her. She was, therefore, a long time talking to the page about the indigesti- ble qualities of green food for ponies when they Were in harness, together with many personal reminiscences of porries in the States, where at one time she herself possessed a pony-cart. Then she carefully examined the downstairs rooms, and, last of all, was going down a round staircase just inside one of the entrances into the summerhouse which led to am underground cellar, when a deep groan startled her not a little. Lawks!" she cried in accents of dismay, there's someone at the bottom as well as the top of this 'ere rummy house." Running out to the page, she told him what she had heard, but he laughed at her. "Indeed it will be nothing at all but the rats," he said, there will be scores upon scores of rats down in that cellar." Well," said Mrs. Jones, thinking he must be correct and that it must have been a rat she heard, "when I come to live here I shan't use the cellar, then. For of all things I do abominate a rat. I knew someone who was bitten by a rat once. Oh, and her hand did swell just, and her arm It was thought she would have to have it taken off." You don't say so just for a rat bite ? "I do, indeed. However, in a day or two, the swelling went down, and the woman recovered and was no worse for it after. But you never could persuade her to go into a place where there were rats after that." My eye I should think not." "It is going to rain I am afraid," said Mrs. Jones, looking round. "It is that Hadn't you better go and see if Miss Blair is ready to come home ? I'm sure you'd better." Thus admonished, Mrs. Jones went upstairs, making a rather unnecessary noise as she ascended the last flight of steps. Arrived at the top, she found Doris and Archie sitting hand in hand, apparently studying the view, but in reality studying each other with new and tender interest. "Oh, Miss Jones, how quick you have been exclaimed Doris with such evident sincerity that the good woman could not help smiling. Mrs. Jones," said Archie, "there is going to be a sale of furniture on the Green to-morrow. I shall go to it on purpose to buy you a little." "Thank you, sir," said Mrs. Jones, "I'll go myself. May-be I can pick up a few things cheap." i can let you have some out of one of the lumber rooms at the Hall," said Doris. I believe there are a couple of bedsteads and some chairs up there which nobody wants." Oh, thank you, Miss. A couple of bedsteads Then I shall be able to keep a lodger!" and the woman laughed in her queer, cracked voice. "Jamie will just be suited," she added. "Is your husband a great cripple?" inquired Doris, kindly. Yes, Miss, he can only get about with crutches and on his harnls and kneeioi. He usually lies down all along. He will like this place all amongst the trees. He does like the country so." "Well, he can lie on his bed and watch the trees, and look at the birds and rabbits running about all day here," said Doris, pleasantly. "But now hadn't you better go to him, Mrs. Jones, at once, and tell him all about everything. There is a short way to the village from that end of the wood opposite to us-a winding path you can't miss it if you go straight on. Mr. Archie Scott is going to drive back with me to the Hall." Oh, very well, Miss. And thank you kindly." The woman smiled upon the happy lovers, and hurried away. "Now, Archie, come," said Doris, and they leisurely descended the winding stairs, chat necessi- tated often the offer of a hand from the young man, which hand was always tenderly clasped and reluctantly relinquished by the charming girl who accompanied him. At last they reached the lowest steps of all, and here Archie stood, and clasped Doris to his heart. "My darling," he said, "if a thousand fathers forbid me to have you, I will win you in spite of all." I shall be true to you," whispered Doris, kissing his dear face. "But, hark! what iR that noise ? she questioned. From the cellar under their feet proceeded a faint sepulchral groan. "Oh, it's nothing but the wind which has now risen, blowing through some old grate, perhaps half rusted through," said Archie. I have often heard a similar sound in old buildings. You know, Doris my own, your father will probably tura me out of the house and forbid my ever speak- ing to you again. He will be so mad with me I know he will." Never mind; I'm sure it is better to be quite straightforward," said Doris, lifting her lovely head proudly as she spoke. And if he does send you away, Archie, I shall be true to you, and wait until I am of age, then I shall marry you, in spite of all the fathers in the world," Again the noise, which was so like a groan, came to their ears from below, but now each was so intent upon a matter which was to them all im- portant that they did not remark it. "I submit to my dad," continued Doris, "in everything I can, (as, of course, it is my duty to do BO), but when he is unjust-and you know he does not always see things as we do-then I take my uwn way a little." Quite right, Doris. Oh, my queen, my love and he kissed her again. Now, Archie, we must go," said Doris, disen- gaging herself from his encircling arm. "Look Listen as the patter, patter of great rain-drops could be heard from the broken windows. It is going to rain. Remind me, Archie, as we pass through the village, to send a plumber, to put glass in these windows, and look to the drains." Have you a cloak, Doris? Yes, in the carriage." I will fetch it, and put it on you here. Stay here, dearest, until I return." Left alone, Doris once more heard the strange groan proceeding from the cellar below. Curiosity, thy name is woman Doris determined to find out the cause of the sound which Archie had declared was the wind blowing through a rusty grating. She, therefore, cautiously began to descend the steps. "Doris, Doris! where are you?" called out Archie, on returning to the room and finding her absent. Doris heard the voice of her beloved. It was a more potent summons to her than her own curiosity had been. Quickly she forsook her quest, much to her regret afterwards, and ran back up the stairs to find herself once more face to face with him. He carefully wrapped the cloak about her, fas- tened it, and then conducted her to the little car- riage. There was not much rain, but the weather looked threatening, and they drove rapidly home, only stopping in the village to send a plumber to the summerhouse, and to speak to Mrs. Jones, who was most anxious to go to her new home at once that she might begin to scrub it out. You see, Miss, we've nowhere else to go. And it costs us ever so much staying at this inn, although we do only have an attic. My Jamie thanks you very much, Miss," she added, "he Will be right glad to come." Oh, you can go at onee," said Doris—"now if you like." Thank you, Miss." At the Hall they proceeded at once towards the library where Doris had left her father. Dora met them almost at the door, with a pale scared face. Mr. Blair is not so well, Doris," she said, I don't think he can see visitors," and she looked at Archie with dismay. Least of all would Mr. -131air be willing to see him with his daughter. Oh, but it is only Archie," said Doris. "You had better not go in," said Dora to Archie. Mr. Blair has had a visitor this morning who has upset him dreadfully. He cannot sea anyone else." Who was the visitor?" asked Doris. Mrs. Adrian Blair, my step-mother," replied Dora. "Indeed Doris looked surprised. She could not remember Mrs. Adrian Blair ever having come to Waddington Hall. Has she gone ?" she asked. "Yes, yes," answered Dora, "And Mr. Blair seems most dreadfully upset." "Then, Archie, it is clear you cannot see him to-day," said Doris. "Very well," he said, reluctantly, "then to. morrow will have to do." n- "And in the meantime," said Doris, "we will try and help poor Mrs. Jones. I will look out those things for her this afternoon, in the lumber- room, and send them." And I will go to that sale to-morrow, and buy something." But Archie spoke disconsolately. Yes, and then come straight on to the Summer- house," said Doris, "and I will meet you there, dear. Then you can come home with me." Archie gladly agreed to that arrangement. He punctually attended the sale the next day, and bought poor Mrs. Jones the most miscellaneous assortment of furniture. Indeed, he was so ab- sorbed in thinking about Doris and the coming meeting with her father, that he only half attended to what was going go. The result was that he bought a cradle, and one or two more utterly use- less articles for the childless pair. All which Mrs. Jones graciously overlooked, because he also kindly bought for her a table, sofa, and fire-irons, which she said were better than she could have ever hoped to possess." Oh, Archie cried Doris, meeting him on the mossy sward just before the Summerhouse the next afternoon, ilwhat do you think ? Mrs Jones has a lodger already. Indeed, he wan already in the house when she arrived to take up her abode." "You astonish me! There was no one here when we looked over the place." Oh, wasn't there ? That is all you know exclaimed Doris. Archie, don't you be so sure that groans proceed only from rusty grates when the wind blows through them. Do you know there was someone in the cellar, lying there half in some water. He had a broken leg, and so could not get out, and when Jolies found him he was quite unconscious." Indeed Poor beggar Where is he now ?" Lying on the bed in the inner room. I haven't seen him yet. He is very ill. Mrs. Jones says he is a stranger. The doctor has set his leg, and he is to remain there a long time." Mrs. Jones came out of the house, looking very anxious. To think that this should have hap- pened," she said. And the poor gentleman was lying in the cellar and groaning when I heard him I —and that Tom said it was rats And I believed him Well, when Jamie and me got here this morning early. Jamie, he says at once, now, my lass, you must look all over the place before we settle in. That cellar now. The opening to it looks uncanny. There might be a dead body there for aught we know." "Well, I went down, and lor, MisF., how I did scream! Poor Jamie, he comes sliding after me as best he could, worse luck, for I had hard work to get him up again. And there was a man lying down at the foot of the stairs, with his leg doubled up under him, and blood across his face, which was as white as my sheet that he's now lying on." And did he come round ?" asked Archie. "Yea. Blair had sent servants with all them beautiful things she has given me, and they brought him up, and got him to come round before the doctor arrived." I I Archie, will you go in the room and see him ? asked Doris. "Certainly." Archie went into the room. The two women heard the sound of exclamations, and then, he came out again. "Doris, my darling," he said, drawing her aside," who do you think is there ? "I haven t the least idea. That gentleman so like, your father who came and had some words with him the other evening at your house." "Not Mr. Adrian Blair!" cried Doris. The same. You told me he and your father withdrew into the wood together to have it out. Well, it seems to have ended with hia being thrown down into the cellar, poor beggar "Oh, but don't think for a moment that mv father threw him there!" cried Doris, indig- nantly." He quarrelled and fought with him in the wood, certainly but afterwards they both came to the Hall, and Mr. Adrian Blair lett some time after, quite alone-at least that is except for Elsie." "Elsie?" Yes. Papa sent her with him to see him safe down the drive. And she came back after a while as if she had done so." Could she have brought him here ?" Oh dear, no; she always does as she is told Perhaps he came here to pass the night. You know he and papa were boys together here in thfiir grandfather's time-at least Mr. Adrian often came on visits, and he knows every nook about the place." "Well, he cannot explain anything just now. He is too ill." "If you please," said Mrs. Jones, coming out of the other room, in which a bed had been hastily set up for the injured gentleman, "he wants to see you again, Mr. Scott. He has something to say to you." Archie went back to the bedside, and, looking at him in a strange way as if he were dying, Adrian Blair said, "I heard Dorisi's voice. Be good to her. Be worthy of her ?" Then he ieU hack fainting. F CHAPTER XXII. | A HARD FATHER. j "WHAT the dickens does the fellow mean?" queried I i Archie inwardly, as he stood by Adrian's bedside, i I trying to restore animation once more in his shat- i tered frame. "What is Doris to him? Now, if | it had been Dora it would have been different, j He said he knew the voice. Well, Dora and Doris j' are half cousins, so their tones may seem to some j1 people alike, although I don't find them so." S; The doctor who had been called in by one of the Hall servants, who was named King, came in just then with Mrs. Jones, and Archie left the patient 1 to them and returned to Doris, who was directing a maid to light the fire and make things comfort- able. Archie," she said. taking him up the next ? flight of stairs into the empty room above, that they might talk without being overheard, "I think we had better not tell papa about Adrian Blair being here-at any rate at present. He is very weak and ill himself, and the news that his j enemy is lying here might be too much for him. He might order him to be turned out, too, and ) that would create a scandal and would be cruel to 1 the unhappy man-in fact, it might kill him." It certainly would," said Archie, "and I agree j with you, Doris, we had better not irritate your father by telling him who it is. The servants j won't know him." ( They will recognise the likeness to papa," said Doris and oh, Archie, he is Dora's father. She ought to know." Yes," we shall have to tell her. But now about j our own affair, my darling, can I see your father j i o-day ? ° I'm afraid not to-day, dear," said Doris, gently, j he is strangely upset about some business matters, j His lawyer was with him all the morning. And { when I came away, Mrs. Adrain Blair was closeted j with him. I didn't like to leave the houie when she was there, for her visit yesterday upset papa i so. But I had promised to meet you here." j Darling, I should have been distressed if you ) had not come;" and Archie drew her to him, and i kissed the sweet face again and again. ] A few happy minutes passed. Then Doris said, | 3oftly, "I must go. Come to the Hall to-morrow, | Archie." Won't you meet me again here ? If you like, dearest." I In a few minutes Archie said, "You'll have to j tell that Mrs. Adrian Blair about her husband being here, you know. Then she can come and look after him." j Oh, yes," said Doris," how stupid of me to forget! I'll hasten home now and tell her." But, mind, don't tell her before your father." Of course not!" cried Doris, hurrying away. j When she arrived at home, she met Mrs. Adrian j Blair at the door, the latter lady was going away. i A cafe waa^waitisuK for her, Well, Doris," she said, in a friendly way, how are you, my dear ? Very well, thank you," said Doris, and would have added more, but the other said, quickly, You had better run to your father I left him looking very ill." Oh, dear, what have you done to him ?" ex- claimed Doris. I only relieved him of a little spare-well, of some things he did not really require. Good- j bye." "Mrs. Blair," said Doris, quickly," I have some I bad news for you. Your husband lies very ill at the Summerhouse in the East Wood." j You don't say so ? Well, I am surprised, j Ta! ta!" and she kissed her hand to Doris, as she went lightly down the steps to get in her cab. j Aren't you going to him to look after him ? asked Doris in surprise." I "Oh, dear no; we are nothing to each other BOW. Good-bye." The cabman slammed the cab door irritably. I The lady had upbraided him with his slowness, as he paused for her to continue talking if so in- clined. Doris turned, and hurried to her father, whom she found looking very much disturbed indeed and feeling very faint. I Will you have some brandy, paoa?" "A little." II. Doris got him some, and after he had taken it hb breathed rather more freely. That woman he said. She has done me a great injury." I In what way, papa ?" Child, I cannot explain." As he looked at her, he thought that, after all, the immense amount he had paid over to Constance Blair to seal her tongue-was not too much to pay for the j sake of the peace of mind of the daughter he loved J so dearly. For whatever else would result from the wicked lie, did Constance utter it in court as j she threatened, Doris herself would be dreadfully troubled. Her sweet mind would be filled with suspicions, her heart, so warm and loving, might be turned from her father. I' Papa, she is a horrid woman I felt it to-day when I met her in the hail." "You met her? What did she say to you?" there was anxiety in his tone. j Doris felt embarrassed because she could not tell him all that had passed without betraying Mr. Adrian Blair's whereabouts. Oii, not very much," she replied. She asked how I was and she said I had better go to you as you were not very well. And, indeed, I can see that, papa. very well. And, indeed, I can see that, papa. What shall I get you ? "A glass of water, nothing else." Doris busied herself in getting it for him, in shaking up his cushions and in various other ways ministering to his comfort. Doris, said her father," I've been a hard rough man, my dear. I don't say either that I haven't been a sinner more than most. But in one thing, and, perhaps, one thing alone, I've done my duty. I have been a good father to you. Always remem- ber that." 11 Yes, papa, I always do remember that; and if I don't seem to you quite grateful enough, you must know that I will do anything in the world for you." Doris spoke very earnestly. She felt more sympathy, and, in a way, affection for her father when seeing him lying there, so helpless and in such suffering, than she ever felt when he went about hale and well, but often rough and tyran- nical. I Would you, Doris? Would you? Then try to like Lord Herbert Blakeney a little." "Papa, he loves Dora "Nonsense! How could anyone in his right senses love her, when she is such a sight to look at?" 1101), papa," don't talk like that. I love her dearly. If her poor face is marked, she has a very sweet expression and her figure is good. But it is not for those things I love Dora, but for her sweet unselfish soul, and, perhaps, a little also for her exquisite voice. Surely a man could love for all those things too ? Her father shook his head. No, no," he said, men love beauty, and sometimes, I grant it, riches too. She has no beauty and she has no riches- pooh she will have no dowry to take her hus- band." Papa, you are rich, you can give her one." "Not I," he answered roughly, wincing as he recollected how seriously his riches had been diminished that very day, "I have done quite enough for Dora. What do you suppose her edu- cation cost me ?" A great deal I know. And you did it all for love of me; how can I thank you enough ? 0 By obeying my wishes. Write a nice little note yourself to Lord Herbert, recalling him here, and telling him in some sort of way that does not look-hem-indelicate, that although he has not been appreciated in one quarter, there are others here who esteem and love him." Doris shook her head. Dear papa," she said, I am very sorry, but you ask for the one thing that I cannot do.' By Jingo then don't talk about loving me Ambrose cried, sternly. You see, papa," pleaded Doris, I believe Dora, being taken unawares, made rather a mistake the other night. I think she loves Lord Herbert. I have hear her weeping in the night and her eyes are often red and swollen just now. She has never looked happy since he went." Good gracious, child! How ridiculous you are Do you want Dora to have the greatest matrimonial prize in all this county? Why, jriothers with marriageable daughters are all angling for Herbert Blakeney. And you, who have no mother to look after your interests, coolly intend to let your oousin have him." "Papa," said Dora, drawing herself up, and looking at him with a distressed air, I don't like you to talk like that. Do you want me to leave you for anyone in the world ? and she wound her soft arms about his neck and looked pleadingly into his face. "Papa" I don't like you to say such things," she repeated. "Very well, then, I won't say them," he rejoined, considerably mollified. But—" There was another interruption. Leggott entered, saying the doctor had arrived and wished to see him. Doris slipped away, and it so hap- pened that she did not see her father alone that day. The next morning she met Archie at the Summerhouse, and after they had both said a few kind words to the sick man, telling him not to trouble about anything, for he was their guest, and they would see that Mrs. Jones was supplied with the means to get him everything that he required, they drove to the Hall in the pony carriage. Archie went straight to the library, whilst Doris waited for him in an adjoining room. "Good morning, Mr. Blair. I'm exceedingly sorry to see you looking so ill," began Archie. Good morning. I am getting on all right. Have you thought over my proposal ?" questioned the other. "Your proposal?" faltered Archie. He had forgotten it. Ambrose Blair looked keenly at him. What had he come about if he had not come to say he was agreeable to go abroad for six months at his expense ? Well ? he said, gruffly. "I have come, Mr. Blair," said Archie, boldly, to tell that I love your daughter, and, and she loves me Bosh bosh 111 almost shouted the elder. If you have come here to talk rubbish, the sooner you are out of this room the better." I know it seems very presumptuous of me-" Presumptuous Bosh! I say bosh It is all bosh cried the infuriated father. But it is true we do love one another-" If you don't cease to couple my daughter's name with yours, I will order you out of my house," cried Ambrose, getting quite purple in the face. Archie was alarmed at his appearance. He feared he was going to have a fit. Still, he thought he might make one more effort. Mr. Blair," he was beginning, when the door opened, and Doris came running in. "Papa, dear papa," she said, "do forgive us. We cannot help loving one another-but we are willing to wait- Willing to wait cried her father, scornfully. "Why, you are babies yet, mere babies. You don't know what love is. You are two poor silly young fools Archie caught hold of Doris's hand, and the mere touch of it seemed to give him strength. I love Doris, Mr. Blair," he said, "and I shall get on, and shall one day win her for nflr wife, shall," "And 1," struck in Doris, bravely, "love Archie, papa, and I shall marry no one else. I shall just wait patiently until he comes for me." "Nothing of the sort," thundered the irate parent. You shall never marry each other. You, Doris, will have to marry such a husband as I approve of; and you, sir," looking at Archie with great scorn, must take care tha,t you never come inside my door again, or I shall order my servants to kick you out-to kid: yon out," he repeated, almost in a shout. A rough, wild man was Squire Ambrose, with a violent temper, which his family knew to its cost. "Doris," said Archie, clasping her hand, "Doris, good-bye. It shall be as we have said." "Yes, dear Archie, it said Doris, weeping and clinging to his hand as if she would never let it go. Oh, papa," she added, turning to him with streaming tears, don't send him away thus. His only fault is that he loves me- and can you blame him for that ? Ambrose Blair had been trying to speak, but the words only seemed to come into his throat and choke him, so terrible was his wrath. Now he pointed to the doors, shouting, Begone—or I shall order you to be kicked out." Archie turned, an(I -,vezit. ( To be continued.) -4..<1




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