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[COPYRIGHT.] A DAUGHTER OF THE TROPICS. BY FLORENCE MARRYAT, .Author of H Love's Conflict," Vdronique," etc. CHAPTER XVIII. 1 "WHAT WILL MRS. ARLINGTON SAY?" AFTER this the two men smoked for some time Without speaking a word. Eseott could not quite trust himself to ask any more questions about the contemplated change, which involved so many un- dreamt-of contingencies; and Kerrison felt half guilty, and more than half foolish, as he remem- bered how often he had pictured a future to his friend which he had been the first to destroy. At length the silence was becoming oppressive, and Colonel Escott made an effort to break it. I wonder," he said, reflectively, what Mrs. .Arlington will say The allusion nettled Kerrison. He 'also had wondered (more than once) what Mrs. Arlington would say, but he was too proud to confess it. "I don't understand you, Jem," he answered. I am not in the habit of consulting my servants about my private affairs Mark, you would never call Mrs. Arlington a servant ? No I was wrong to use that term, perhaps; but your remark instigated it! What I should have said is, that I should as soon think of con- sulting my servants as Mrs. Arlington. She is a paid employee in my establishment, and has nothing to do with any department but her own." But will she continue to fill that department under the new arrangement ? Why should she not ? I don't know The question simply occurred to me. Ladies do not always get on very well with each other." "Mrs. Arlington will have nothing to do with my wife. I shall put it to-to Lily if she wishes her to continue to direct the houskeeping. If she ,does-tbings will go on as usual. If she does not -Lola will subside into my secretary only, and my wife will look after her own house. I see no diffi- culty in the matter." "Not from your point of view, perhaps; but women are difficult creatures to deal with, and I have always heard that when a batchelor who has kept up an establishment like yours, marries, he generally finds he has to get rid of the female members of it! "Then Lola Arlington may go replied Ker- rison, promptly. Go?" echoed Colonel Escott in surprise. Yes; of course she must go Do you suppose I shall allow a single creature, male or female, to remain in the house to annoy my darling ? Not a bit of it I am going to marry her in order to try and remove the worries and troubles of life from her path-not to augment them And whoever annoys her in the slightest degree, or fails to make ber more comfortable instead of less, must find a home elsewhere. That is all I had no idea," said the Colonel, in a voice which was a little shaky on Mrs. Arlington's account, I had no idea that you would part with an old and tried friend in so un courteous a manner. Think how careful Mrs. Arlington has been of your comfort—how devoted to your interests. You would surely not resent a little natural annoyance OE her part by a summary dismissal ? 1; Wnat right would she have to feel annoyed ?'' demanded Kerrison, with an uncomfortable recol- lection of the avowal she had made to him. Only the right of friendship to mourn when it finds itself no longer first" replied Escott sighing. That's a hit at me, old fellow, and all the promises I have made to keep to you, and to you only, to my life's end. But you mustn't imagine ,that my marriage will make any difference between ius. No woman can come between you and me; you will still be my best friend and chum to my life's end. Promise me." Always your best and truest friend, Mark, to 'the day of your death," replied the Colonel, with emotion. You may depend upon it." '^That's right; and all the rest may go hang I know you will be charmed with my Lily, and ,she will soon be as fond of you as I am. As for Mrs Arlington, I will speak to her the first thing in the morning, and she must decide for herself. If she doesn't care to stay with me as a married man I will look out for another secretary but if .she does stay she must treat my wife with the deference and attention due to the mistress of my ihouse, or we shall fall out on that score." The idea of Lola Arlington treating Lily Power with deference was so incongruous an one, that Colonel Escott did not stop to contemplate it, but passed on to another subject: When is the marriage to take place, Mark ? "At the close of the season. I have already secured a shooting-box in the Highlands as you know. I shall take my wife there for the honey- moon, and after a fortnight you must join us, and we'll have a rare time after the grouse together." "Thanks, dear old man, but you will be better alone, and I shall have business to detain me in town." What business? Well, I shall have to look out for rooms for myself for one thing, and the furnishing of them will occupy all my time." "Jem, you are not in earnest? What do you mean, Mark ? You will not leave me because I am going to be married You promised, you know, to take up a permanent abode in my house. I look upon you as a fixture here-in fact, I will not part from you." "My dear fellow, that is nonsense! The ^arrangement was made under the idea that we "Were both to remain bachelors. Now that you are about to blossom into a married man all such promises must come to an end. What would your wife say to having a constant visitor at your table ? My wife will say what I say," insisted Kerrison; "and I say that you shall not go. Here you are, and here you remain." "It is impossible, Mark. It would not make me happy. It will not be the same thing at all. I should feel like an outsider.' I am quite determined to make a home for myself." It was the first cloud that had arisen to over- shadow Kerrison's bright anticipations of the future and he felt it deeply. He did not argue the matter further, he did not even ga on smoking, but he put his pipe on one side, and leaned his head despondently on his two hands. Escott guessed his thoughts, and drew nearer to him. Don't worry about it, old fellow," he said, gently. "It's only what was to be expected in tile natural course of events. I never quite believed that, with your wealth and popularity, you would keep single for ever. I have had a *ery happy time of it whilst here, and I shall never aruf6t it* always be near at hand, an<j akle to drop in on your disengaged evenings, :ioke a pipe as we have been doing now." It .Wrl]a be the same thing," echoed Kerrison, his hand. pleasant hope it may be something much knows byi" said Escott, cheerfully. "And who example ?116 °f these days I may follow your there will b« *°°k ou^ *or a w^e *or myself. Then of one." 11 two good old bachelors spoiled instead It S all ygw. Kerrison, irrifft1!?e11 to laugh>" responded Mark miserable." ^My; but you have made me And on the fnii word to Mrs. ArlwWlnS morning, when he sent the same idea was ft to j°™ him m the library> I suppose she will *Lm „ have lost both of lD. I «n "^rs; Arlington, I have something of import- ant ?ou lt m»y prove of import- ance m shaping your plans for the future. I am going to be married to Miss Power on the tenth of next month." To say that the woman was surprised is nothing. She felt as if she had been si idenly ™rned to stone. The repulse which s ie had eceived at Mark Kerrison's hands a montl before him °n*y possible) inflamed her desire to onquer it had staggered her, but not made her despair. She still trusted in maman's prophecies, and believed that in time she would win him for herself aud now he was about to be married-to be lost to her perhaps for ever She flushed and paled under the intelligence, and her body swayed to and fro where she stood and yet she had sufficient command over herself to look him full in the face and say "Indeed sir!" "Yes, it is true. I should have told you sooner had it been possible but it came about at the last rather suddenly, as I suppose such things usually do. Any way, it is a fact. And now I want to know your wishes on the subject." ii-i y wishes, Mr. Kerrison I mean with respect to your situation here. Do you intend to retain it or not? CHAPTER XIX. I MRS. ARLINGTON WOULD RATHER STAY I LOLA ARLINGTON did not know at first what to answer. She had reigned in that house like its mis- tress she had had the control of everything. The servants had been retained or dismissed as she thought proper, and no limit had been placed on her expenditure or her authority. To remain in it, therefore, under the rule of Lily Power would be gall and wormwood to her. And yet how could she part with him? How could she go forth to seek another home where she should never hear his voice nor see his face again ? The unfortunate woman, with the blind, unreasoning love of an animal, which brings no intellect to bear upon and counteract the evil of a grosser nature, believed that she would kill herself sooner than give up the dangerous pleasure that formed her daily food. Even if she must resign all hope of becoming his wife, she would still remain near him, she thought, and retain her influence over him, and continue to make herself a necessary adjunct to his life. That his wife (if she loved him) would be made unhappy by such a course of action never entered for one moment into the calculation of Mrs. Arlington. Wives, in her estimation, were insignificant items, whose happiness (however authorised) was not to be thought of for a moment in comparison with her own. It was herself she considered, and therefore, notwithstanding her disappointment and chagrin, she elected to remain. To gain time she repeated Mark Kerrison's words "Do I intend to retain my situation or not? The question rather is, sir, do you intend to retain I me? Of course I do, under-under certain condi- tions." May I inquire what those conditions are ? j You set me an unpleasant task in asking me to repeat them, but I don't think I need do more than remind you of a certain confidence that took place between us a month ago, for your answer," Mrs. Arlington's brow grew dark at the allusion, but she made no comment upon it. "I suppose, although it may sound egotistical," continued Mark Kerrison, that it is only due to my future wife and myself that I should tell you, j Mrs. Arlington, that we are very much attached to one another, and that what hurts her will hurt me. Also, that I expect and intend her to come into my house as its sole mistress; and although I do not think she will have any desire to interfere with your prerogatives, her wishes on all points must be deferred to as if they were law." "Of course said Mrs. Arlington. She possesses a sweet, gentle nature, without Ii any idea of domineering or tyrannizing, and she has known trouble, and will be quick, I am sure, ¡ to feel for others. But she will be my wife—the honoured head of my household, and the first I thought in my life—therefore she must be treated as such by everyone who lives under the same roof." I expected no less, Mr. Kerrison And I expected no less of you than a recogni- tion of her rights, Mrs. Arlington. I was sure you were too sensible a woman to do anything else. But if under the circumstances you would rather leave me than stay-say so." "I would rather stay It would be folly of me to pretend that I shall not somewhat feel the change, but you shall not be troubled by any knowledge of it. Let me stay and be your friend and assistant, as I have been hitherto. The future 1 Mrs. Kerrison will never receive anything but the utmost courtesy and deference from me. Only —unless you find she can better fill the place than myself-let me still be your secretary—your house- keeper, if it pleases you both-and I will continue to serve you as faithfully as I hitherto have done!" 0 I don't think the 'future' Mrs. Kerrison, as you call her, will interfere with either your secretarial or housewifely duties," replied Mark, softly laughing to himself. "She is a tender flower, like her name, who has consented to bloom in my garden for the rest of her days. She is too delicate for work of any kind, and should never have been set to rough it in the world. But we shall soon remedy all that On the tenth of next month, then, Mrs. Arlington, my house will have I a mistress. Please make the fact known in the servants' hall it will save me an infinity of 1 trouble. Good morning Are you not going to work to-day, Mr. Kerri- son? "Well, no, I think not? he said, rather con- fusedly. The fact is, I am not much in the humour for work just now (as you may suppose), and there will be plenty of time for it when I have settled down. I am going to Greenwich, and may not return to dinner. In which case, make my apo- logies to Colonel Escott. I suppose you have noth- ing more to say to me!" he continued, moving j towards the door. towards the door. "Nothing, Mr. Kerrison." j He nodded carelessly to her in reply, and passed from the room, leaving her standing by the table I' with a.n expression on her face that was not pleasant to behold. Her hand, too, as it hung down by her side, was clenched with anger, and the eyes that followed his retreating form were dark and vindictive. Mark Kerrison would have reason yet to remem- ¡ her the day when he told Lola Arlington that he ¡' was going to marry Lily Power. I CHAPTER XX. I AT APPLESCOURT. < THE season was over. The theatres were closing j one after the other, and London streets looked empty. Everyone who had enough money to leave to wn"had rushed away to the seaside or the country, trying to shake off the defilement of dust and the enervating effects of languid days and heavy nighte in the breezes from the Channel, or the fresh luxuriance of the woods and fields. Applescourt, situated in the heart of Surrey, was in its summer glory. It was an ideal estate for a gentleman of independent means, owning a park, and a wood, and a lake, with an extensive flower- garden, and just sufficient farm and poultry-yard to supply the wants of the family. to supply the wants of the family. Mrs. Fielding, to whom the property belonged in her own right, was very proud of it, and boasted of possessing the finest flower-garden, the longest line of hothouses, and the best gardener in England. Reynolds (as this last-named functionary was called) was always well to the front at every horticultural show, and had a row of prize silver cups upon his sideboard that were the envy of the neighbours. His mistress was as great an en- thusiast as himself, and almost spent her life amongst her flowers. Indeed it was the general opinion of the country-side that Mrs. Fielding only cared for two things in the world—her garden and her son-and no one was quite sure which she liked the-best. If she was^good mother to Esme she was cer- tainly not a,pleasant one, for she tried to rule him with a rod of iron. He was her only child, and she had been left a widow at nineteen, with nothing but her little boy to comfort her. She had been deeply attached to her husband. She had married him, being a great heiress and he a poor man, against the wishes of all her friends she had re- gretted but one thing-that he had died and left her to enjoy her riches by herself. Nothing, how- ever, would induce her to part from their son. Until the days of infancy were over, Esme had slept in her bosom all night, and been her constant companion by day. As he grew older, her friends entreated her to send him to a public school and make a man of him. But Mrs. Fielding insisted on having a private tutor for him instead. She brought him up to no profession. Her only wish was to educate him to be a companion for herself, and a fitting inheritor of her property when she should be gone. Meanwhile the youth moped and became dis- contented with his lot, and fell into mischief for the want of something to do. The doctors, prob- ably instigated by young Esmii's relations, recom- mended travel and change of scene, and most unwillingly Mrs. Fielding gave her consent to his going abroad for a twelvemonth with his tutor. This had happened about three years ago. Mean- time his mother, feeling lonely in his absence and s missiag the presence of youth in the house, had I secured the services of a young girl as companion, and imprudently retained them after her son's return. The usual consequences ensued. The girl was pretty and innocent-the boy impression- able. In an evil moment Mrs. Fielding discovered that the two young people had plighted their troth to one another, and exchanged rings. In her blind rage and mortification she even thought she had discovered much more; and the idea that Esmé had dared to free himself from her leading-strings, and choose his own path in life, drove her frantic. She was a woman of a violent temper, and it had never been crossed before. She called her son and her companion to appear in judgment before her, and accused them of a mutual affection. They could not deny it. They even went so far as to appeal to her sense of justice and mercy and led away by her anger at their apparent opposition, she commanded Esme to choose at once and for ever between herself and the girl he professed to love. The young man was taken aback. He did not know what to do. To give up his mother, who had been everything to him from his birth, was an im- possibility. Yet it seemed equally impossible to desert the trembling girl he had been the means of bringing into this trouble. He tried to temporise in vain; he appealed to his mother's affection for him with no better effect. Mrs. Fielding was adamant. He must relinquish her society, and all hopes of inheriting her property-or this low-born girl whom he had chosen to degrade himself by associating with. It was an awful moment for Esme—one of those eras in a man's existence when it seems impossible for him to act kindly and honourably by all. He had a hard struggle with himself, but, when it ended, his choice had fallen on his mother's side, and Mrs. Fielding was triumphant. But she could not let the matter rest there. She drove the poor girl (who had been the cause of her trouble) from the gates of Applescourt, with such revilings and innuendoes as robbed her of her reputation for ever. And then, when frightened, trembling, and in tears, the poor young creature fled from her sight, Mrs. Fielding turned her attention to consoling her son. But this proved to be no easy matter. Esme either sulked, or sorrowed so much, that his mother found very little pleasure in his society. Ab last he startled her by a demand for an allowance adequate to his position. He was then of age, and considered, as he had no profession, that it was only due to him. Mrs. Fielding felt this circumstance bitterly. It was the first effort Esméhad made to break the chain that linked him to Applescourt, and she feared lest, once free, he might fly away altogether. But when she consulted her friends on the sub- ject they advised her to comply with her son's request, or to anticipate worse consequences. He would run away to sea, or to Australia, they said, itahe did not lengthen his tether. I So, much against her will, Mrs. Fielding agreed to give him five hundred a year as a private allow- ance, and the usual result ensued. Esme spent more than half his time away from Applescourt, and only returned there when he had exhausted his revenue. He was at home at pre- sent, however, and his mother was content. She thought he looked ill and pale, but he gave no account of his doings, and only attributed his appearance to the unusual heat of the London season. He never mentioned the rupture of his youthful attachment to Mrs. Fielding, and she often won- dered if he had met that disreputable girl again, or if he were in communication with her. She would have liked to question him, but she dared not. It was two years now since it occurred, and Esmd had advanced to manhood with rapid strides, and bore a look upon his handsome face so like his father, that she felt sometimes just a little afraid of displeasing him so the matter appeared to be sunk in oblivion. They were sitting at breakfast one morning together, in a pleasant, lazy sort of way, skimming their letters and newspapers as they ate and drank. It was burning hot in London at the time, where the August sun was streaming down on bricks and tiles that had not yet cooled from the day before but here at Applescourt, although the land was flooded with light, a cool breeze was rustling through the pine-woods, and wafting perfume on its wings as it gently lifted the paper that Mrs. Fielding was trying to decipher. What a string of marriages she remarked presently. It seems as though people purposely delayed their wedding-day until they were ready to leave London, in order to make one journey serve both purposes." "And very sensible too," yawned Esme. "There's quite enough to do in the season without having to marry anyone !—such a bore as it must be at any time Mrs. Fielding laughed at his nonchalance. It seemed as if he had quite got over his youthful folly for the dismissed companion. "What is the name of the man with whom Colonel Escott is living ?" she asked, presently. "Mark Kerrison." Then he is married. Listen here—' On the tenth of August'—that was last Thursday—' at All Saints', Bayawater, Mark Kerrison, of 302, Hyde Park Gardens, to Lily Power. To whom ? cried Esme, suddenly leaving his seat, and crossing over to her side. Lily Power. Who is she ? Do you know her?" Where is the paragraph 1" he asked, as he took the paper from her hands. Women are very sharp in all matters connected with the heart. Esmd spoke low, and tried hard not to let his voice tremble; but Mrs. Fielding detected the effort at once, and looked up quickly in his face. It was paler than it had been, and his dark, straight brows were knitted together. Her suspicions were aroused at once. "I have read it out to you There is nothing more to see," she said, sharply. But he took no notice of the remark. Well," continued Mrs. Fielding, after a pause, why don't you answer my question ? Do you know this Lily Power, that you appear so interested in the marriage?" I know Mr. Kerrison," he replied, evasively; "is not that enough? And I am surprised my godfather never told me he was going to be married; it is most unexpected In fact, the only time the subject was mooted before me, it was to hear it emphatically contradicted "Who contradicted it?" "Mrs. Arlington-Mr. Kerrison's lady-secre- tary." And did you meet this Lily Power there?" Yes j I met her there." 11 Esmd, what is the matter with you this morn- fog ? You don't mean to tell me that the mere fact of this woman bearing that girl's name has the power to affect you ? You are not so weak and foolish, surely, as to be hankering after that old business still?" At this allusion Esmé Fielding flushed darkly red. "Mother, that 'old business,' as you call it, took place two years ago, and I have never spoken to you of it from that day to this. I don't recognise your right, therefore, to rake it up again." "You may not have spoken of it, but you have often thought of it; and that you cannot deny." I have no wish to deny it. I shall think of it to the day of my death 66 ESM6, I am ashamed of you I thought you had more pride 1 An ill-bred, presuming girl "Mother I if you don't stop I shall say some- thing you will be sorry to hear for if I, have not spoken of that time to you, it is because I have been too angry to trust myself to speak of it! Did you imagine that my silence meant approval ? That because I was too foolish, or too cowardly, to stand up in the defence of Lily Prescott, as I should have done, I had no eyes for your injustice to her-no indignation for your unwomanly taunts and threats ? If so, you are marvellously mistaken X have thought of her constantly I I have never forgotten that degrading day when you turned the poor child out of Applescourt without a name, a character, or a friend Whatever has become of her since—whether she is an honoured wife, or has joined that unhappy company that nightly haunts our streets, her fate lies at your door Her blood is on your hands! If you have any wish to retain my affection or respect, don't mention the name of Lily Prescott to me, for it is the shame and mortification of my life Mrs. Fielding was astonished at this outburst. Her son had been so reticent hitherto, that she was quite unprepared for it, and guessed at once that it must have been caused by some later incident than the one he alluded to. Was it possible that these two Lilys were the same ? And yet how could Mr. Mark Kerrison have committed the folly of marry- ing an outcast ? Don't attempt to deceive me!" she ex- claimed, with true feminine tact, assuming that to be true of which she needed the assurance, you have met that girl again, and it is useless denying it." Why should I deny it ? he returned. I am my own master." So you take good care to let me know said his mother, bitterly. But you would do well to remember that your allowance can be withdrawn at my pleasure, and that I am at liberty to leave my property to whom I think fit." Oh take back your allowance, then, and leave your money to the butler, if it pleases you ex- claimed Esmé, "for I am weary of these constant threats; or, rather, since it is my misfortune to be dependent on you, let me draw a year's allowance in advance, and I will go out to Australia or America, and rid you of my presence for ever I am sick of England, and everything in it, and wish for no better fate than to lose myself and my identity in a new world He has seen that girl, and she is beyond his reach," thought Mrs. Fielding, sagely. "I shouldn't be in the least surprised to find it is she who has entrapped poor Mr. Kerrison; she was artful enough for anything I shall make it my duty to discover, for I will Rot let Esmd fall into her I clutches a second time. If this is not Lily Prescott under an assumed name, why should he be so upset at reading ot the marriage? There's more here than meets the eye." As she pondered thus behind the shelter of the newspaper-she was too agitated to read-Esmé was gnawing his heart out on the opposite side of the table. "Married!" he thought-" married, and gone beyond my reach for ever How mad I was to speak to her as I did! My action must have determined her fate He did not address his mother again, but rising, presently, took out his cigar-case and prepared to pass through the French windows into the garden. Mrs, Fielding became afraid she had gone too far; she crossed the room to her son's side, and, standing on tip-toe, kissed him on the forehead. We won't talk about Australia just yet, my boy," she said, kindly; "you know you can have double your present allowance, if it is not suffi- cient, and that all my real desire is for your happi- ness. If we don't always quite agree on what will further it, you must ascribe my different views to a mother's anxiety. You are all I have, Esme I could not part with you but don't let us broach this subject again, my dear. It can lead to nothing but unhappiness; let it be dropped between us henceforth, and for ever." She was very careful to make no further allusion to Mr. Kerrison's marriage, or the lady who had denied its possibility but she had forgotten neither of them nevertheless, and she fully intended to carry out her plan of discovery. Colonel Escott and she were naturally friends, and through him she would be able to find out all she wished; but she knew the only way to lull Esm6's suspicions regarding her actions was to pre- tend that the painful subject was closed between them for ever. (To be continued.)





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