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CHAPTER LVI.

J I think you have grown thin. You look as AT LADY AUGUSTA's.

if you had been ill."

“I have fretted a good deal — worried “THE Count Pracontal, my lady,” said a myself; and my anxiety about you has very grave-looking groom of the chambers, made me sleepless and feverish." as Lady Augusta sat watching a small gold-' “ About me! Why, I was never better en squirrel swinging by his tail from the in my life.” branch of a camalia tree.

“Your looks say as much; but I meant “Say I am engaged, Hislop — particu- my anxiety to lay my tidings at your feet, larly engaged. I do not receive - or, wait: and with them myself and my whole future." tell him I am much occupied, but, if he is “You may leave the chocolate there, quite sure his visit shall not exceed five Hislop," as the man entered with a tray; minutes, he may come in."

"unless Count Pracontal would like some." Count Pracontal seemed as though the “ Thanks, my lady,” said he, bowing his permission had reached his own ears, for he refusal. entered almost immediately, and, bowing “You are wrong then,” said she, as the deeply and deferentially, appeared to wait servant withdrew." Hislop makes it with leave to advance further into the room. the slightest imaginable flavour of the cherry

"Let me have my chocolate, Hislop; " laurel; and it is most soothing. Isn't he a and, as the man withdrew, she pointed to a love?" chair, and said, “ There. When did you “ Hislop ?" come back?"

“No, my darling squirrel yonder. The Pracontal, however, had dropped on his poor dear has been ill these two days. He knee before her, and pressed her hand to bit Sir Marcus Cluff, and that horrid creabis lips with a fervid devotion, saying, “How ture seems to have disagreed with the I have longed and waited for this moment." dear, for he has pined ever since. Don't

“I shall ring the bell, sir, if you do not caress him — he hates men, except Monsigbe seated immediately. I asked when you nore Alberti, whom, probably, he mistakes returned?"

for an old lady. And what becomes of all "An hour ago, my lady - less than an the Bramleighs - are they left penniless?" hour ago. I did not dare to write; and “By no means. I do not intend to press then, I wished to be myself the bearer of my claim farther than the right to the esmy own good news.”

tates. I am not going to proceed for — I ** What good news are these?”

forget the legal word - the accumulated “That I have, if not won my suit, secured profits. Indeed, if Mr. Bramleigh be only the victory. The registries have been dis- animated by the spirit I have heard attribucovered — found in the very spot indicated ted to him, there is no concession that I am in the journal. The entries are complete; not disposed to make him." and nothing is wanting to establish the le-“What droll people Frenchmen are ! gality of the marriage. Oh, I entreat you, They dash their morality, like their cookery, do not listen to me so coldly. You know with something discrepant. They fancy it well for what reason I prize this success. means piquancy. What, in the name of You know well what gives its brightest all romance, have you to do with the Bramlustre in my eyes."

| leighs ? Why all this magnanimity for “Pray be narrative now - the emotional people who certainly have been keeping can be kept for some other time. Who you out of what was your own, and treating says that this means success ?”

your claim to it as a knavery !". "My lawyer, Mr. Kelson. He calls the “You might please to remember that we suit won. Ile proves his belief, for he has are related." advanced me money to pay off my debt to “Of course you are nothing of the kind. Longworth, and to place me in a position If you be the true prince, the others must of ease and comfort."

be all illegitimate a couple of generations ** And what is Kelson - is he one of the back. Perhaps I am embittered against judges ? "

them by that cruel fraud practised' on my“Of course not. He is one of the lead- self. I cannot bring myself to forgive it. ing solicitors of London; a very grave, Now, if you really were that fine generous thoughtful, cautious man. I have shown creature you want me to believe, it is of me, you many of his letters. You must remem- of me, Lady Augusta Bramleigh, you would ber him."

| be thinking all this while: how to secure “No; I never remember people; that is, me that miserable pittance they called my ' if they have not personally interested me. settlement; how to recompense me for the fatal mistake I made in my marriage; how | Castello, and carried away a quantity of to distinguish between the persons who papers." fraudulently took possession of your prop- " My lord, as your lordship is so palpably erty, and the poor harmless victim of their referring to me, and as I am quite sure you false pretensions."

are not aware of my identity, may I hasten "And is not this what I am here for? Is to say I am Count Pracontal de Bramleigh?" it not to lay my whole fortune at your feet?” “Oh, dear! have I forgotten to present

"A very pretty phrase, that doesn't mean you?” said. Lady Augusta, with a perfect anything like what it pretends: a phrase simplicity of manner. borrowed from a vaudeville, and that ought Marion acknowledged the introduction to be restored to where it came from." by the slightest imaginable bow and a look

“Lord and Lady Culduff, my lady, wish of cold defiance; while Lord Culduff smiled to pay their respects."

blandly, and professed his regret if he had * They are passing through," said Lady uttered a word that could occasion pain. Augusta, reading the words written in pen- “Love and war are chartered libertines, cil on the card presented by the servant. and why not law ? ” said the viscount. “I “Of course I must see them. You needn't take it that all stratagems are available; go away, Count; but I shall not present the great thing is, they should be successful." you. Yes, Hislop, tell her ladyship I am “Count Pracontal declares that he can at home. I declare you are always com- pledge himself to the result,” said Lady promising me. Sit over yonder, and read Augusta. “The case, in fact, as he repreyour newspaper, or play with Felice," sents it, is as good as deterinined."

She had barely finished these instructions “Has a jury decided, then ? " asked Culwhen the double door was flung wide, and duff. Marion swept proudly in. Her air and “No, my lord; the trial comes on next toilette were both queenlike, and, indeed, term. I only repeat the assurance given her beauty was not less striking than either. me by my lawyer; and so far confirmed by Lord Culduff followed, a soft pleasant smile him that he has made me large advances, on his face. It might do service in many which he well knows I could not repay if I ways, for it was equally ready to mean should not gain my cause." sweetness or sarcasm, as occasion called for. “These are usually cautious people," said

When the ladies had kissed twice, and the viscount, gravely. his lordship had saluted Lady Augusta with “It strikes me," said Marion, rising, a profound respect, dashed with a sort of " that this sort of desultory conversation devotion, Marion's eyes glanced at the on a matter of such importance is, to say stranger, who, though he arose, and only the least, inconvenient. Even the presence reseated himself as they sat down, neither of this gentleman is not sufficient to make lifted his glance nor seemed to notice them me forget that my family have always refurther.

garded his pretension as something not very “We are only going through; we start far from a fraud." at two o'clock," said she, hurriedly.

“I regret infinitely, madam," said PraAt one-forty, my lady," said Lord Cul- contal, bowing low, - that it is not a man duff, with a faint smile, as though shocked has uttered the words just spoken." at being obliged to correct her.

l. “Lady Culduff"'s words, sir, are all mine," “It was so kind of you to come,” said 'said Lord Culduff. Lady Augusta ; " and you only arrived this “I thank your lordship from my heart morning ?”

for the relief you have afforded me." “We only arrived half an hour ago," “There must be nothing of this kind,"

“I must order you some lunch; I'm sure said Lady Augusta, warmly. “If I have you can eat something."

been remiss in not making Count Pracontal “My lady is hungry; she said so as we known to you before, let me repair my error came along," said Lord Culduff. “Allow by presenting him now as a gentleman who me to ring for you. As for myself, I take makes me the offer of his hand." Liebig's lozenges and a spoonful of Curaçoa “I wish you good morning," said Marion. - nothing else - before dinner.”

“No, thank you ; no luncheon. Your ladr.. "It's so pleasant to live with people who ship has given me fully as much for digesare dieted,'” said Marion, with a sneering tion as I care for. Good-by.” emphasis on the word.

“If my congratulations could only shadow "So I hear from Bramleigla," interposed forth a vision of all the happiness I wish Lord Culduff, " that this man -I forget your ladyship,” began Lord Culduff — his name - actually broke into the house at “I think I know, my lord, what you

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would say," broke she in, laughingly. “You | the discussion, and the guessing that the would like to have uttered somothing very note occasioned; the mere fact that George neat on well-assorted unions. There could had ventured to issue an order of this kind be no better authority on such a subject; without first consulting Julia, investing the but Count Pracontal is toleration itself: he step with a degree of mysteriousness perlets me tell my friends that I am about to fcctly inscrutable. I turn, however, to Catmarry him for money, just as I married poor taro, where L'Estrange and Jack sat toColonel Bramleigh for love."

gether, each so eager to hear the other's “I am waiting for you, my lord. We tidings as to be almost too impatient to have already trespassed too far on her lady- dwell upon himself. ship's time and occupations." The sneering To account for their presence in this reemphasis on the last word was most distinct. mote spot, George, as briefly as he could, Lord Culduff kissed Lady Augusta's hand sketched the course of events at Castello, with a most devoted show of respect, and not failing to lay due stress on the noble slowly retired.

and courageous spirit with which Augustus As the door closed after them, Pracontal and Nelly had met misfortune. “All is not fell at her feet, and covered her hand with lost yet,'' said L'Estrange; “far from it; kisses,

but even if the worst should come, I do not “ There, there, Count; I have paid a know of two people in the world who will high price for that piece of impertinence I show a stouter front to adversity.” - have just uttered; but when I said it, I “And your sister, where is she?” said thought it would have given her an apo- Jack, in a voice scarce above a whisper. plexy."

“ Here at the villa." “But you are mine — you are my own!” “Not married ?"

“Nous en parlerons. The papers are “No. I believe she has changed less full of breaches of promise ; and if you want than any of us. She is just what you reme to keep mine, you'll not make it odious member her.” to me by tormenting me about it."

It was not often that L'Estrange attempted “But, my lady, I have a heart; a heart anything like adroitness in expression, but that would be broken by a betrayal."

he did so here, and saw, in the heightened "What a strange heart for a Frenchman! colour and sparkling eye of the other, how About as suitable to the Boulevards Italiens thoroughly his speech had succeeded. as snow-shoes to the tropics. Monsieur de “I wonder will she know me," said Jack, Pracontal,” said she in a much graver tone, after a pause. “You certainly did not at “ please to bear in mind that I am a very first.” considerable item in such an arrangement as “Nor, for that matter, did you recognize we spoke of. The whole question is not me." what would make you happy."

“Ah, but I did though,” said Jack, passPracontal bowed low in silence; his gesing his hand over his brow," but I had gone ture seemed to accept her words as a com- through so much, and my head was so mand to be obeyed, and he did not utter a knocked about, I couldn't trust that my syllable.

senses were not deceiving me, and I thought “Isn't she handsome ? " cried she, at if I make any egregious blunder now, these length. “I declare, Count, if one of your people will set me down for mad. That was countrywomen had a single one of the charms the state I was in the whole time you were of that beautiful face she'd be turning half questioning me. - I promise you it was no the heads in Europe; and Marion can do small suffering while it lasted". nothing with them all, except drive other "My poor fellow, what trials you must women wild with envy."

have gone through to come to this. Tell

me by what mischance you' were at Ischia." CHAPTER LVII.

With all a sailor's frankness, and with a AT THE INN AT CATTARO.

modesty in speaking of his own achieve

ments just as sailor-like, Jack told the story WHEN L'Estrange bad carried off Jack of the storm at Naples. Bramleigh to the inn, and had seen him en- “I had no thought of breaking the laws," gaged with an excellent breakfast, he des- said he, bluntly. “I saw ships foundering, patched a messenger to the villa to say that and small craft turning keel uppermost; on he was not to be expected home by dinner-every side of me there was disaster and contime, but would be back to tea “ with a fusion everywhere. I had no time to infriend,” for whom he begged Gusty Bram-quire about the morals of the men I saw leigh's room might be prepared.

clinging to hencoops or holding on by I shall not delay to chronicle all the doubt, stretchers. I saved as many as I could, and sorry enough I was to have seen many ill when I landed that I went to hospital; go down before I could get near them; and but there was little care given to the sick, I was fairly beat when it was all over, or and I left it when I was able to walk, and perhaps they'd not have captured me so came on here. Talk of luck, but I ask you easily. At all events," said he, after a min- was there ever such a piece of fortune befell ute's silence, “they might have let me off a man?" with a lighter sentence, but my temper got L'Estrange could not speak as he gazed the better of me in court, and when they on the poor fellow, over whose worn and asked me if it was not true that I made wasted features joy had lighted up a look greater efforts to save the galley-slaves than of delight that imparted an almost angelic the soldiery, I told them it might have been elevation to his face. so, for the prisoners, chained and handcuffed “But can I go back like this?” asked he, as they were, went down like brave men, sorrowfully, as he looked down at his ragwhile the royal troops yelled and screamed ged clothes and broken shoes. like a set of arrant cowards, and that when- “I have thought of all that. There is ever I pulled one of the wretches out of the nothing to be had here ready but Montenewater I was half-ashamed of my own hu- grin costume, so the landlord tells me, and manity. That speech settled me, at least you will have to figure in something very the lawyer said so, and declared he was picturesque." afraid to say a word more in defence of a “Cannot I get a sailor's jacket and trowman that insulted the tribunal and the na- sers ? " tion together."

| “Ay, of Dalmatian cut and color, but “ And what was your sentence?”

they'll not become you as well as that green “Death, commuted to the galleys for velvet attila and the loose hose of the mounlife; worse than any death! It's not the taineer. Try if you can't take a sleep now. hardship or the labour, I mean. A sailor and when you awake you'll find your new goes through more downright hard work on rig in that room yonder, where there's a a blowy night than these fellows do in a bath ready for you. I'll go down the town year. It is the way a man brutalises when meanwhile, and do a few commissions, and vice and crime make up the whole atmo- will set out homewards when you're rested," sphere of his life. The devil has a man's “I wish it was over," said Jack, with a heart all his own, whenever hope deserts it, sigh. and you want to do wickedness just because ** Wish what was over?” it is wickedness. For three weeks before “I mean I wish the shock was over. I made my escape it was all I could do not The shock of seeing me such an object as I to dash the turnkey's brains out when he am! Sickness changes a man quite enough, made his night round. I told my comrade but there's worse than that, George. I

- the man I was chained to what I felt, know what this rough life of mine must have and he said, “We all go through that at made of me. You won't say it, old fellow, first, but when you're some years here you'll but I see it in your sad face all the same. not care for that or anything. I believe it I am – say it out, man – a most disreputawas the terror of coming to that condition ble-looking blackguard !" made me try to escape. I don't know that “I declare, on my honour, that, except I ever felt the same ecstasy of delight that the ravages of illness, I see no change in I felt as I found myself swimming in that you whatever." fresh cold sea in the silence of a calm starry “Look here,” said Jack, as his voice night. I'm sure it will be a memory that trembled with a peculiar agitation, “I'll will last my lifetime. I thought of you all see Xelly first. A man's sister can never - I thought of long ago, of our happy eve-be ashamed of him, come what will. If nings, and I pictured to my mind the way Xelly shows - and she's not one to hide it we used to sit around the fire, and I won- - that - no matter, Ill not say more about dered what had become of my place: was I it. I see you're not pleased with me laying ever remembered, was I spoken of; could stress on such a matter." it be that at that very moment some one was "No, no, you wrong me, Jack; you asking, where was poor Jack? And how I wrong me altogether. My poor fellow, we wished you might all know that my last never were — we never had such good reathoughts were upon you, that it was the son to be proud of you as now. You are a dear old long ago was before me to the hero, Jack. You have done what all Europe last. I was seventeen hours in the water. I will ring with." When they picked me up I was senseless “Don't talk balderdash; my head is weak from a sun-stroke, for the corks floated me enough already. If you're not ashamed of long after I gave up swimming. I was so the tatterdemalion that comes back to you, it's more than I deserve. There now, gol ing admiration at his handsome looks and off, and do your business, and don't be long, gallant bearing. for I'm growing very impatient to see them. “Are they commenting on the ass in the Give me something to smoke till you get lion's skin?" said Jack, in a sly whisper; back, and I'll be calm and reasonable by “is that what they are muttering to each that time.”

other?" If L'Estrange had really anything to do “Quite the reverse. It is all in extravain the town he forgot all about it, aad trot- gant praise of you. The police are on the ted about from street to street, so full of alert, tvo: they think there must be misJack and his adventures that he walked chief brewing in the mountains, that has into apple-stalls and kicked over egg-bas- brought a great chief down to Cattaro." kets amid the laughter and amusement of Thus chatting and laughing they gained the people.

the outskirts of the town, and soon found If he had told no more than the truth in themselves on one of the rural paths which saying that Jack was still like what he had led up the mountain. been, there were about him signs of suffer- “Don't think me very stupid, George, ing and hardship that gave a most painful or very tiresome," said Jack, - if I ask you significance to his look, and more painful to go over again what you told me this than even these was the poor fellow's con- morning. Such strange things have befalsciousness of his fallen condition. The len me of late ihat I can scarcely distinguish sudden pauses in speaking, the deep sighs between fact and fancy. Now, first of all, that would escape him, the almost bitter have we lost Castello — and who owns it?" raillery be used when speaking of himself, “No. The question is yet to be deall showed how acutely he felt his altered cided; the trial will take place in about state.

two months." L'Estrange was in no wise prepared for “And if we are beaten, does it mean that the change half an hour had made in Jack's we are ruined? Does it sweep away Mahumour. The handsome dress of Montene- rion and Nelly's fortunes, too?" gro became him admirably, and the sailor- “I fear so. I know little accurately, like freedom of his movements went well but I believe the whole estate is involved in with the easy costume. “Isn't this a most the claim." appropriate transformation, George?" he “Gusty bears it well, you say?" cried out. “I came in here looking like a “Admirably. I never saw a man behave pickpocket, and I go out like a stage ban- ' with such splendid courage."

“I'll not ask about Nelly, for I could “I declare it becomes you wonderfully. swear for her pluck. She was always the I'll wager the girls will not let you wear best of us." any other dress.”

If L'Estrange drank in this praise with " Ay, but my toilet is not yet completed. ecstasy, he had to turn away his head, lest See what a gorgeous scarf I've got here - the sudden Aush that covered his face green and gold, and with a gold fringe that should be observed. will reach to my boots, and the landlord in- “I have no wish to hear the story of this sists on lending me his own silver-mounted claim now; you shall tell it to me some sabre. I say, old fellow, have you courage other time. But just tell me, was it ever to go through the town with me?”

heard of in my father's time?" •You forget you are in the last fashion “I believe so. Your father knew of it, of the place; if they stare at you now, it but did not deem it serious.” will be approvingly."

“Marion, of course, despises it still; “What's the distance? Are we to walk?" and what does Temple say ? "

“ Walk or drive, as you like best. On “One scarcely knows. I don't think foot we can do it in an hour.”

they have had a letter from him since they “On foot be it then; for though I am left Ireland.” very impatient to see them, I have much to “See what a wise fellow I was !” cried ask you about."

he, laughing. “I sank so low in life, that As they issued from the inn, it was, as any change must be elevation. You are all L'Estrange surmised, to meet a most re- great folk to me!" spectful reception from the townsfolk, who There was a long and painful pause after regarded Jack as a mountaineer chief of this — each deep in his own thoughts. At rank and station. They uncovered and last Jack asked suddenly, “Ilow is Marimade way for him as he passed, and from on? Is she happy in her mrrriage ?" the women especially came words of flatter- “We hear next to nothing of her; the

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