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X [AU Rights Reserved.] 1:0: ;¿I ? THE PAIGNTON HONOUR ?il X BY "I" X ALICE & CLAUDE ASKEW, <11 X Authors of "The Shulamite," "Testimony," &c. y I £ <X><><XX)><X><><><X><XK><XX><XKXK><X><K><>^ ♦ sTXorsia. I I JJOKD i'Airt^TOT, lately a vtnower, has Deen absent m Australia for eighteen months, his two daughters in Brussels, and his son Dr.ôc.. at Oxford and with Sir Mark Thornilale's family, -which includes a prpttv daughter Doreen, to whom Brtwe hM just become enpatred. They are now re-unit* at the ancestral home, Charlton Park. There is an old saying, II When Paignton honour yields to shame, Extinct shall be the Paignton name." Lord Paignton tells hi gtYls that he has bought a house in Knig-ht-obridg-e, and pi-,)mi-113 them a season in town. Maiviii w hispers to h*r sister, 1, IVe sb-"Il be able to see Basil ana Gregory The«> arc two young men with whom the sistevs hawe become friendly daring their absence in Belgium. The family solicitor, David Mozeley, is horrified to near ot this extraMMrance, knowing that owing to Lord Paignton s e&ii>- lewne-w in money matters he is drifting to rum. Jj.oze.ey s partner reinatks that the Paignton honour will soon be worth Tery little. lord Paignton, although on the vor-e of ruin, has bought a house in town for himself and his dau^htera Marv A )tromislng- to give Iris son's fiancee. Doreen, a seaa there also Af-t.-r a visit to his hank Lord Paignton in ftstownded to learn the truth of his position, n.nd output- tneet--w Owen Mortimer, a mar. whose acquaintance he Jian msuiaoa board .ship. Mortimer suggests that Lord Paignton Clay become a miilieuaiio by putting himself unreservedly into tie hands, and succeeds in talking him over. It is Abided that the London House shall be a wedding gift to Bruce and Doreen. for l-one of the children guess the t.u state -of affairs. Doreen is now staying at Charlton r.trk, *ae,is keenly interested in politics, at,d Brnce ha, decided to go iinto parliament. Mortimer is also staying there, aud having completely deceived Lord Paignton, makes up his aumd to marry Marion, but the girls are doubtful of him. Owen Mortimer, while staying at Charlton Park, is told by Lard Paignton that his daughters are to marry for love. Hie lwdship remarks that lie wonders why Montimer has never married. Mortimer speaks in a sentimental way of an early 1.1'e atfair, and is angry with himself by-b^lng touched with remorse for the way in which he is deceiving his host. Friends of Mortimer's call for him in their motor, and Lord Paignton invites them to dinner. Bruce and Doreen wander away by themselves, and the young man.tells her that four yean before he became fooli-hly infatuated with a girl named Agnes Musgrave, who by chance -he has seen again Umt morning. When they return to the lawn Mortimer's friends have arrived, and Bruce is horrified to find that they I are Mr. Musgrave and Ms d?ug?hter Agues. He is vexed at bbeen persuaded to tell Doreen the story. CHAPTER VIII I THE "LUCK" 18 BROKEW. Bruce had never been placed in so awkward a position in his life. It really was a peculiarly ironical touch of fate that within so short a time of having made his confession to the girl he loved he should be brought face to face with this other girl, the one he had so nearly made a fool of himself over. And even while he was mumbling common- places to his father's guests he was looking out of the corners of his eyes to see how Doreen was behaving under these trying circumstances. Doreen was looking distinctly upset. After a few words of ordinary civility she had turned away and was standing a little aside with Marian and Amy. Bruce could feel that her eyes were fixed upon Agnes Musgrave. He was glad that the Musgra.ves evidently did not wish in any way to refer to the by- gone acquaintance, but he was furious that they should have ventured, under any cir- cumlbanc,es whatever, to call at Charlton Park. There could be no excuse for such a. piece of barefaced audacity. It was particu- larly galling after what he had said to Doreen about being unable to ask them to visit his people. Bruce decided that after they had taken their departure he must really speak some word of protest to his father. Of course nothing could be done at present without committing an egregious breach of the laws of hospitality. There was another tiling which worried Bruce even in his then state of mind, con- cerned as he was particularly about himself. Was this man Musgrave a suitable person to be entrusted with important business? From what Bruce remembered of him when he had known him at Brighton four years ago, Mus- grave's reputation was none of the best. Well, all these matters would have to be threshed out, and that at the earliest oppor- tunity. The whole party was collected upon the lawn in front of the house, making conversa- tion—none too easily. It was a relief when Lord Paignton suggested that a short stroll round the garden, before dusk actually set in, would be pleasant. I'm sure Miss Musgrave would like to see our famous rockery, Bruce," he suggested in all innocence. You might show her round. There'll be just time." This was the irony of fate once more with a vengeance! That Bruce should conduct Agnes Musgrave to the rockery, of all places in the world, a spot that was hallowed to him and Doreen Surely this was testing his powers of restraint almost to the breaking- point. I should just love that, cried "Oh. I should just love that, cried Agnes." "I've heard of the famous Charlton rockery and longed to see it." "Dear me, have you really now?" said Lord Paignton, much interested. He was proud of the rockery and pleased to hear that its fame had gone abroad. "Now I wonder who told you about it?" Bruce knew from whom she had heard of the famous rockery, and he flushed scarlet as he noticed a sugtive twinkle in the eyes of Agnes Musgrave. "Oh, I don't know exactly who told me," responded the girl readily. No doubt it was some mutual acquaintance who has visited at Charlton." Bruce was quite sure that the Paigntons and the Musgravee had no acquaintances in common, but since there was nothing further to be said on tlie subject at the moment he merely turned to the girl and muttered, "I shall be delighted, I'm sure. Shall we go at once? It's rather a large place, and I'm afraid there won't be time to show you quite all. f '1 He was determined that they should not penetrate to his special retreat, the arbour on the edge of the wood-the sanctity of that must, at all costs, be preserved. And so they set off together, and as he passed Doreen, Bruce lifted his eyebrows and made a helpless gesture with his hands, while Doreen, for her part, bestowed upon him a smile that was meant to be cncouragmg, but which ended with a pathetic little droop of the lip. Lord Paignton strolled off with the two men, leaving Marian, Amy, and Doreen to- gether. Doreen clenched her little fists as she gazed after the disappearing figures of her lover and Miss Musgrave. "I hate that girl," she exclaimed, vehemently. "I'm sure she's come to Charlton to make mischief between Bruce and me." Doreen, at that moment, was too excited to weigh her words. "My dear Dorrie," protested Marian, "why, we've none of us seen Miss Musgrave before. What a jealous little thing you are. "I can't help it." Doreen flushed, con- scious that she had said rather more than ehe intended. Of course Marian and Amy had not the remotest idea that she had any cause for jealousy". Bruce had not taken them into his confidence about his past love affair. "I can't help it even if I am jealous," she repeated, but with less heat. "It's my nature, I suppose. And all the time Miss Musgrave was talking to Bruce she was opening her big eyes and then coyly looking down at the grass--ogling, I call it. Besides, she's a bold-faced girl, and not to be trusted, or I'm no judge of a woman's face." Doreen spoke as though she were possessed of infi- nite worldly wisdom. "She's very handsome," was Marian's com- ment,, "though Fm not sure that I don't i agree' with you and with Amy that she's bad style. That green silk must have cost a lot of money, but somehow it isn't altogether the sort of thing that one would expect a girl of her age to be wearing--emeeiallv out mot, oring- All the same," she added, gently, ?T? think we ought to judge too quickly fr, ,m ° i-pressions I daresa, Mus- ?.m? ?P?———.? ? ?- grave is quite a nicegirl, really." he's not "Anywaqy?, P? ?- "even if he's not fCA "pu In quite a gentleman, must say that M-r. -Alus- grave is -an improve t up1. on old Mozeley, who always sent me d in the dump,? whenever he came her?e, ??.???-te glad that we are going to see a more pleasant f?e instead of his." the Doreen had relapsed into si > while the two sisters continued to Qiscusa ? ? arrivals. But it was all she coulddo to hoid herself in. Why had thi??/?.??oufd peared upon the scene? Surely ^j j not have been deceiving her when ?'- ??red that Agnes Musgrave had passed n]e^eiy nut of his life and that he never expected to see here again F Could it all be sheer chance? In the meanwhile, Bruce and Agnes had been talking conventional small talk until they were out of sight of the rest of the party. Now and then Bruce shot a glance under his eyes at his companion, and told himself that, if anything, she had vastly im- proved sÏ¡ce the days of his acquaintance with her. She was more of a woman, and held herself better; also she had lost that little giggling lau^h which she used to affect in those days, and which had always rather got upon his nerves. She was tall and dark, and had piercing black eyes and a rich olive complexion, which gave an impression that one of her parents, at least, must have been of foreign extrac- tion. With it all there was something about her, a something indefinable, which set her apart from such girls as Bruce's sisters and Doreen. Strive as she might, she would never be of their world, and this was evident in her gait, her manner, and, more particu- larly, in her speech. It was she who broke the ice. She came to It sudden halt almost at the entrance of the rockery, and after a quick glance round, to assure herself that they were not followed, she dropped pretence and adopted a mere familiar tone. "I am so glad you behave with such dis- cretion, Bruce," she said, beldly using his Christian name. "I was afraid that in your -is afraid ihat in yo u--r surprise you might have given the whole show away. You must be wanting an ex- planation, and I'm ready to give you one." "Yes," he responded slowly. "I shall be glad to hear anything you've got to say, and I don't think you'd better call me Bruce, even when we are by ourselves. You might forget yourself before others. Perhaps you dont know that I am engaged to be mar- ried r "Yes, I know all that," she interrupted, "and I won't call you by your Christian name, since you don't like it. But we were good friends once, you and I, and after all, we only agreed to differ. I've never done you any harm, and you have nothing serious to reproach we with. That's true, isn't it?" He nodded. It was quite true that Agnes Musgrave had never attempted to injure him in any way. There was a time when he'd been afraid that she might, for he had oer- tainly played into her hands. He had been haunted with visions of an action for breach of promise. No, there was no reason why he should have any particular grudge against her. "It isn't because of you that my father and I have come to Charlton," the girl con- tinued. "I should never have seen you again of my own accord. Whatever I may feel, I've got some pride. I'll tell you why we came. You see, since we left Brighton, things have gone better with us. Father fell in with Mr. Mortimer—an old friend of his- and Mr. Mortimer put a lot of work in his way. We settled in London, alid oontinued to prosper. Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. Mortimer spoke to my father about Lord Paignton, how he was dissatisfied with the solicitor who had been acting for him, and how good business could be put in our way if he cred to accept it. Of course, father was ready to do this, but there was an objection —yourself. After what had passed between you and me at Brighton"—she lowered her eyes as she spoke the words, and Bruce noticed how long and curling were her lashes —"it was conceivable that you might object to—to anything likely to re-establish rela- tions. But, after all, business is business, and I saw no real reason why you should bear any malice against me. So I advised my father to accept, and he did so. There's no reason why you should ever meet Bruce' -that's what I said. And it's quite likely that I never should have met you, and that ou would not have guessed your father's tfew solicitor had anything to do with your old friend, had it not been that we motored Mr. Mortimer down to Charlton to-day, and that when we called to pick him up Lord Paignton insisted that we should come in. Then it occurred to both of us that it was best to get it over, and we trusted to your dis- cretion not to refer to the past-for, after all, what is the use of raking up that old story, which is dead and buried for both of us? You behaved just as I hoped you would, I Mr. Paignton, and now I'm glad that I've had the opportunity of speaking to you and making things quite clear." She had stated her case in a simple and straightforward manner, and Bruce could find nothing to argue against it. The situa- tion had been an awkward one—a particu- larlv awkward one under the circumstances —but that had been nobody's fault; it was sheer coincidence that the Musgraves should have put in an appearance upon the very day when he had recounted to Doreen his boyish love affair. If only he hadn't spoken, if only Doreen wasn't jealous—well, then it would not have mattered at all. Furthermore, it wa-sn't at all likely that he would see much of Agnes in the future. The position of solicitor and client is not as a rule one that involves much social intercourse. The only point that still rankled in his brain, after he and Agnes had strolled for some little time through the rockery, was whether Nevil Musgrave was the sort of man to whom important business should be en- trusted ? And, although he did not care to put any such question directly, Agnes was quite able to divine what was in his mind. With- out affecting to do so she skilfully contrived to reassure him on the matter. Her father had had the business of So-and-So and So- and-So entrusted to him—she mentioned in- fluential names well known to Bruce. Things were very different now from what they bad been four years ago. They had been down in the world then, it was true, but that had really been owing- to her father's innate honesty. Perhaps Bruce had never heard the story? Agnes told it glibly. Mr. Mus- grave had been deceived by hi;, then partner, who had sought to induce him to embark upon certain shady transactions; tho scrupulous Mr. Musg'rave had refused to have anything to do with these, and the partnership had been dissolved with a conse- quent heavy loss. By the time they turned their steps slowly homewards Bruce was quite convinced that Mr. Musgrave was a nmch wronged man, ind Agnes an altogether charming girl, whom he had treated rather badly in tho past. "So we may be good friends, you and I?" she said, as they approached the house. "*That's all I ask for. I know that you're engaged to be married, and I wish you every happiness and success. But you'll keep a little friendship for me, won't you?" He promised that he would, promised it even with sortie vehemence. He was feeling sorry for Agnes Musgrave; she had been fond of him-and why was it that she had never married any one of those numerous admirers of hers? He wondered if it was, perhaps, on his account? At any rate there was no reason why Doreen should be jealous; he would make it all right with her. And so they camo back to the house and found the rest of the company, including Sir Mark and Lady Thorndale, sitting in the great hall. Bruce was immediately pouncec upon by Doreen, while Agnes strolled up to her father. At the first opportunity the latter con- trived to whisper to his daughter: "Is it all right? The girl nodded. "Yes, ou needn't worry yourself," ehe „-jiiurmured in reply. I 've worked the job satisfactorily. We are all on the best of terms." The man heaved a sigh of relief, and cast an admiring glance at the girl. Agnes was really very clever. lIe had been terribly i'ra:\i lest her late affair with Bruce i aigaton might have been the cause of mis- clil to his projects for the future. Brace, on liis side, was working hard to cc-isois Doreen, and to make her see things in the same light that he saw them. The t.-L .1: was one of considerable difficulty, for Doreen was jealous by nature. "What a little fool I was," she sighed, "ever to have asked you those silly ques- tions, Bruce. Why do women always do that sort of thing when they know they must be laying up trouble for themselves in the future? If I hadn't known I shouldn't have minded. But oh Bruce, you do promise me that you'll never see Mies Musgrave more than you can help? I understand that it's nobody's fault, but-I shall always to a little bit nervous." He did his best to laugh her fears away, and by the time the gong sounded as a signal for dressing for dinner she was laughing again, quite herself. It was an informal but cheerful party that assembled round the hospitable board at din- ner that night. Mortimer and Mr. and Miss Musgrave were naturally not in evening dfess, since they were returning to London by motor that night. And as for the rest of the party, with their boxes packed because of the migration on the following day, they all felt that the meal partook somewhat of the nature of a picnic. Lord Paignton, as usual, was the life and Boul of the party. His spirits Tjjere quite in- domitable. When dessert was put upon the table he rose in his place and made a little speech, in which he referred to the engage- ment of his son to Doreen Thorndale and to his delight that she and her parents, his very old friends, should be at that moment under his roof. At the same time he welcomed his new friends, Mr. Owen Mortimer and Mr. and Miss Musgrave, whom he hoped he would eee frequently as soon as, with his family, he was settled in his new London abode. "I think this demands a toast," he ex- claimed, "and it must be drunk out of the famous Paignton cup. You all know the story of the cup, don't you? It's only brought into u^e on very important occa- sion—occasions s&h as this, when one wishes to drink success to a future Lord Paignton and his bride-elect." He turned as he spoke and gave an order to the old butler, who stood behind his chair. "You'll all be very careful as we pass the loving-cup round," he continued, "for you know that part of the story, too, don't you? We call the cup 'the luck of the Paigntons,' for as long as it is intact and as long as it is never taken away from Charlton Park, the luck of the Paigntons will continue. But should it be broken or removed, then-well, then the family is threatened with the most unpleasant consequences. But I think this is one of the rare occasions when the cup should be brought into use. I've sent Martin for it and told him to charge it with cham- pagne. Lord Paignton remained standing, and presently the butler appeared, bearing the cup, which was large and antique and curi- ously-shaped, brimming over with sparkling wine. With great care, and evidently im- pressed by the magnitude of the situation, he placed it before his master. "To the health of the young couple!" Everyone rose. Lord Paignton lifted the glass with one hand. Evidently it was heavier than he had anticipated, for he brought the other hand up quickly, then-no one could tell exactly how it happened—he appeared to lose his hold: he made a vain effort to recover himself, but the cup slipped from between his hands, fell with a crash upon the table, and was splintered into frag- ments. t. A gasp of horror passed down the table. The luck of the Paigntons" had been broken—broken by Lord Paignton himself! CHAPTER IX. f THE PAIGNTON BALL. t The London season was drawing to its end -it was going on for the m?i iddl e of July. Lord Paignton was giving a big ball at Wandsborough House in celebration of his son's engagement. It had been decided that Bruce and Doreen were to be married early in the following year—there was really no reason at all for a longer engagement. No ill had befallen as a consequence of the breaking of the cup. The old legend was ex- ploded, as Lord Paignton told himself and everyone else. It was only a stupid super- stition on the face of it, this idea that the mere breaking of a glass vase could affect the fortunes of a house; it was really rather a good thing that the whole story had been shown up for what it was worth. Not the faintest suggestion of an ill- omened cloud had arisen to mar the pro- eperity of Marian's and Amy's first London season. Wandsborough House had proved all that could be desired as a residence, and Lord Paignton had been delighted with the compliments which had been showered upon him for the manner in which he had pre- pared it for the reception of his family. "But oh, what a lot of money you must have spent, papa," Marian had exclaimed, after she had thoroughly explored all the wonders. "I really had no idea that we were able to afford such a place as this and to keep up Charlton Park as well." "Afford it, my dear—of course we are able to afford it," Lord Paignton bad replied in his usual airy manner. "There never yet was a Paignton who could not allow himself a luxury that he desired." Yet it must be admitted that even Lord Paignton himself had been a little taken aback at the magnitude of the account which had to be settled for the decorating and furnishing of his new abode. It had not been without some hesitation that he had consulted Mortimer on the subject. The latter, however, had merely shrugged his shoulders unconcernedly. "Musgrave will see to it," he had said. "It's all right; you needn't worry yourself. I told you that you'd have unlimited means if you left things to me. I'm a man of my word. Paignton." "You're a wonderful man," was his Lord- ship's reply, "and I thank Heaven every night and morning for having thrown you in my way. Owen Mortimer muttered something un- intelligible in reply and changed the subject. There had been considerable further expenditure that year. The three girls had been presented at Court, Doreen by her sister Mrs. Coverdale, Marian and Amy by Lady Westingford, who happened to be in London that season. There had naturally been a great deal of entertaining, too, enter- taining which culminated, now that the season was coming to an end, in a ball at which all London—all London that counted —would be present. Marian had enjoyed those two months of delirious pleasure and excitement im- mensely. She had enjoyed them all the more because now and then-not as often as she would have desired—she had met Basil Heath, and he had shown himself as devoted to her as he was the year before at the little Belgian plage. She was sure that he cared, and yet there was a subtle difference in his behaviour towards her now that lie knew that she was a girl of great wealth and high station. He had ventured to scold her a little for the deception which had been practised upon him, and Marian could not help feeling that he would have been happier if he had found her in a less exalted position. Certainly he had net yet ventured to speak to her of love and she was a little disappointed at this for in a simple, girlish way she had done her best to hint that money was not a question upon which she set any store. She had met many. men that season who had shown them- selves ready to pay her attention, but her heart had never swerved from its early'devo- tion. Basil Heath had won her during those wanderings upon the sunnv sands of the little seaside village in Belgium, and he had only to speak to learn the truth. Lord Paignton had taken a fancy to the young artist, and was glad to see him when- ever he cared to call. Basil had been asked to dinner, too, on more than one occasion, at Wandsborough House. He was easily familiar in his manner towards their Chris- tian names, as he had learnt to be in Bel- gium. As a matter of fact, he hardly paid more attention to Marian than he did to Amy, but the former, with a woman's per- ISplCUlty, suspected the reason of this Basil always morbidly conscious of his poverty, dared not give a hint of the true state of his mind. As for A-y, there were times when she was a little peevish and restless. Marian could never understand quite what ailed her, or what might be the cause of her fits of depression. Perhaps she was still hankering after her convent, but if so she never referred to the subject, and she throw herself feverishly into all the gaieties and amuse- mcnte that the London season provided. She was tired with too much dancing, perhaps dazzled with too much light; it was all such a change from the quiet summer of the year before. And then there did not seem to be any great advance in her incipient love affair, if it had ever been a love affair at all, which Marian was"* beginning to doubt. Gregory Venner, the young curate of St. Cuthbert's, had availed himself far more readily than Basil of his opportunities of visiting at Wandsborough House. He had, indeed, made it fairly apparent that he was anxious to pay his addresses to Amy, but she had avoided rather than sought his company, and on one or two occasions she had even administered an undeserved snub. it was not that she cared for anyone else -at least, she had given no encouragement I to any of the likely young men who seemed to have taken a fancy to her. But she was always glad when Basil came, and would flush with pleasure when he said nice things to her. Yet Marian never guessed, had no ana. picion of the real source of the trouble. Even when she found Amy in tears one night, after they had all been to the opera together, and she and Basil had driven back alone— even then Marian had never guessed why her sister wept, but had attributed the tears to mere fatigue. The Paignton ball was a very smart affair indeed. All London was there. The great house glittered with light, and the air was heavy with the perfume of flowers. Lord Paignton displayed his most genial smile, and even ventured upon a dance. Yet among the guests there were some upon whom severe criticism was passed. The most scathing remarks were made by a little group of men collected in the smoking-room. There was Reggie Haines, famous for his sharp tongue, Walter Kenney, who had been with Bruce at Oxford, Gordon Collier, the explorer, and Wynne, of the Stock Ex- change. Gregory Venner; who didn't smoke and didn't dance, and who had onlv come to the ball to meet Amy, fled from the room when the other men invaded it. "Good ball, what?" Collier remarked, carefully drawing off one of his gloves in order that he might not soil it as he helped himself to a whisky and soda. "Evervono here that one would expect to meet." "And a few one wouldn't expect to meet," giggled Haines, fulfilling his destinv of scandal-monger. "I was never so surprised in all my life as when I saw old Musgrave, the Brighton solicitor, and his daughter, too —Agnes Musgrave, of all people in the world! Musgrave had a bad reputation in those days, but as for Agnes, wll-" He broke off, then added maliciously, "Bruce used to be rather sweet on her, I remember. I wonder if she came at his invitation?" "There's another queer fish I came across this evening," put in Kenney, "and that's a man named Mortimer—Owen Mortimer. I shouldn't have thought he was the right sort any more than your Musgrave. I know he was barred at the Mercury Club-some story of card-playing-I don't know the rights of it. And there have been City dealings—but Wynne will know more about that." Wynne was one of those men who are always ready with an opinion and who are apt to speak without weighing their words. On the present occasion he had even less hesitation than usual. "I know 'em both," he said shortly, t( 'they're a pair of thieves, and my opimion is that raignton should be warned." (To be Continued.)






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