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(AT [ALL RIGHTS RXSZRVILD.1 8 FLYN 0' THE HILL M or, THE LITTLE WHITE WITCH I ? By MADGE BARLOW, Wi /?\ Author of "Crag Cormac," "The Cairn of the Badger," &c. M CHAPTER XIII. 1 "IF SHE BE NOT FAIR TO ME.* I Eric perused his mistress's note of dis- missal for the twentieth time, and felt astounded. Miss- Macara has no further occasion for Mr. Bamfylde's services, and will be obliged if he will vacate the cottage at his very earliest convenience. She en- closes cheque in consideration of duties per- formed, and in lieu of notice." What it cost her to write thus, what tears and sighs, he never knew. At first he felt inclined to treat the dismissal comic- ally, and his boyish reply increased her pain tenfold. She loved best the frank and merry boyishness of him, the blithesome nature. "Bamfylde presents his compliments to Miss Macara, whom he perceives to be afflicted with temper. He returns the cheque, protesting that any work he has done has been a labour of love, owing to his fondness for agricultural pursuits. As it would certainly inconvenience him to vacate the cottage, he claims the month's notice to which he is entitled." Rather staggered, the Hill tried again. "It is Miss Macara's privilege to decide whether her steward shall receive notice or not. She has nothing more to say, except that her previous note fully indicates her wishes." "Bamfvlde's note also indicates his inten- tions. They are, to sit tight and challenge eviction," the Nest retorted. "He is pre- pared to shed his blood in defence of his rights. Lead on, Macbeth She ceased to write in the third person since it provoked him to unseemly jesting, and Jaffe bore the meek query valleywards: "Will you go to please me? "Not till you procure another to fill my post," he replied. "And then not unless you can show reasonable grounds for sacking me. How, in the circumstances, am I to get an equally lucrative situation?" She smiled through her tears at "equally lucrative," crumpling the rejected cheque in her hand. "Isn't it cowardly," she asked, "to pit your strength against a girl's weak- ness?" And he answered: "Not when the girl behaves ungenerously. I am going straight to the Hill for a soul-sifting cross- examination of your motives. I can't bear our present relations. We are neither friends nor foes. We should be lovers. It must be either one way or the other after to- day." On the threshold of her home Jaffe stopped him. Miss Flyn was unable to see him. "Is she ill?" he inquired. Jaffe said "No," glorying in a Darking- ton's discomfiture. "Engaged?" queried Eric. Jaffe admitted as much, reluctantly it seemed. "With whom?" "Mr. Ralph Dorn," said Jaffe, repeating what a desperate Flyn had put into his mouth. "Take this to her." Eric scribbled on a leaf of a memorandum book and folded the paper into a cocked hat. "Choose between Dorn and me. I am waiting on your doorstep. If I go in, he goes out, but before going he'll confess whatever I hold he has over you if I have to wring it from him by brute force. Don't be afraid, darling. It can be nothing I'll refuse to for- give. and it's best to get it bver." "The mistress read your message and said there was no answer." Eric heard him incredulously. "Once more, Jaffe, and I have done." He wrote: Onl your solemn word, did you ever love me, or were you playing with me ? She felt driven into a corner. ceOn your solemn word!" That offered no loophole of escape in the future. It was irrevocable. The impulse to rush out and draw him-in, and tell him Dorn was not there, and Gideon Viscount Cheveral had Dearly separated them, was great; but love trampled on it, asked her whether she sought her own, good or his, and whither had fled the courage which yesterday ranked his well-being first and hers nowhere. "I do it because I want you to be happy, and you couldn't be if you bought me at too high a price," she sobbed to herself. "Atjd your happiness?" cried inward re- volt. That voice she silenced. "You horrid little boaster," said another Flyn. "You were so brave yesterday like a coward before the battle. For his sake you could have crucified self. To-day you will." Her pen dashed across the scrap of paper. "I was playing with you. I never loved < < He went about his duties as usual. The world does not stand still because a girl has beem faithless. His face looked older, graver; it had lost some of its buoyant vouthfulness and gained in unbecoming cynicism. He spent long evenings shut up in the Nest, with his pipe and his thoughts for company, and the p Wisp wondered what it was He saw in the red turf ashes into which he stared so fixedly. Burnt-out, dead ashes! A simile of his lif0. He remained in her service, and would re- main till a fifth came to oust him and swell the roll of Flyn's victims. As for him, his summer idyll was finished with the fading of the roses. Love her he would, to all time, but sweetheart and wife were not for him. She had preferred Dorn, fearing his threats and disclosures. No other construc- tion could be put upon her actions. Evi- dently Dorn was at liberty to dictate to her. He scarcely spoke to the man when he met him, and Dorn returned the compliment, scowling melodramatically at Eric. A sudden bitterness had swept away the surface civility of the two, and it began when my Lord Darkington made much of Dorn,, inviting him to the Lodge for con- vivial evenings, courting his company out xif doors, professing and displaying a mighty friendship which persuaded Ralph that Horace and his wife had joined forces to help him and share the matrimonial broker's fee. Sylvia was too cowed to ask questions of either. She sat upstairs, virtually a pri- soner, and tried in vain to fathom Horace. The convivial eveniings were a respite from the refined cruelty of her husband's treat- ment since he had found out her treachery. Sho realised that he had clipped her wings and caged her. "Darkington and his cousin have quarrelled, and in revenge he has deserted the cousin and ranged himself oni my side. It's an ill wind blows nobody good," laughed Dorn. "Darkington is angry because of Bam- fvlde's growing attachment to Flyn Macara, said Culaheen. "That's why he mid Andy are estranged, why he has taken Sylvia from the Hill, and is espousing Dorn's cause in that quarter. Depend upon it, there's something in the stories wo hear, or Darkington would not show such a volte- face, for it's an open secret that at one time he would have favoured a match between Andy and this girl." So they were careful not to invite Bam- fylde and the Darkingtons together to their dinners and dances. Cathy understood the situation better, but self-interest kept her silent and made her sweetly sympathetic when sheer boredom drove Eric into a renewal of their former intimacy. He thought it dear of Cathy to bo kind, knowing him only as a detrimental, a poor relation and hanger-on to the skirts of Horace. The fact that he loved Flyn did not lessen her determination to be a Viscountess, and she was confident of attaining her ambition if Horace would refrain from rushing revela- tions which couldn't be long delayea in the present state of affairs. She kept a wary eye on him, less surprised than Sylvia by his dumbness. "He's ripening for mischief," she mused. "But he wcn't row with Cheveral himself. He'll tempt Dorn to do it. It will be to all appearances a combat between Flyn's lovers, and the instigator of it will stand aside and laugh in his sleeve." One night she saw them coming from the Lodge arm-in-arm, Darkington whispering in the other's ear. "Pouring poison into his mind, and a diffe- rent poison down his throat," she com- mented. "Once you begin the brandy-bib- bing, Mr. Ralph, you are undone, and Dad will rid us ofrbur paying guest. Now I know what has spoiled your temper of late and run the red of your complexion into the white." I'll watch you both," she said, going her way to the weekly choir practice. I dom't want to marry a maimed or disfigured bride- groom." < < < The rustic choristers, whose training was numbered among Mickey's gratuitous duties, were dismissed early, and Mickey was sing- ing for his personal consolation a hymn they had been practising. His clear tenor and the hushed organ notes floated down to Cathy in the porch, making her vaguely sorry for herself and him. His voice never failed to awaken responsive chords in her. It was one of the golden voices which stir us like a tuneful instrument full of glorious harmonies. "Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom Lead Thou me on. The night is dark, 'and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on. Keep Thou my feet; I do not wish to see The distant scene. One step enough for me." Cathy hearkened, and dashed up the gal- lery stairs at full speed lest, if she lin- gered, he should reduce her to actual blub- bering by his rendering of the line, "And with the morn those angel faces smile." He twisted round on the organ stool and greeted her somewhat diffidently. "I—I didn't expect you," he said. It is late, and the choristers have gone." She perched on the rail of the enclosed pen wherein he sat and delicately snuffed the air. Unexpected pleasures, she told him, were the most de- lightful." "You're looking pasty," she said, her eye critical. "You're fretting about me, you silly fellow. I had to give you the mitten, you were so foolishly persistent, though I warned you a hundred times that I meant tc marry brilliantly. Didn't I?" "We won't discuss it, Cathy. I haven't blamed vou." "Thatfs funny, considering the cause you've got. Work off your spleen, or it will prey on your constitution, Mickey. You are too like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief." "Have you come to tell me of your en- gagement to Mr. Bamfylde?" "Not yet. I must catch his heart on the rebound. He and Flyn have either sundered themselves or been sundered." To Mickey she had always admitted her mercenary aims, though she hid other things from him. He puckered his face into a perfect network of wrinkles. "It isn't an honourable course to adopt," he said rebukingly' "Very little is gained in this world by honourable courses,' she reminded him. "There is the approval of conscience, Cathy." H Oh, give conscience a rest," she retorted flippantly. "Is it true that you are think- ing of removing to what Dad calls 'a wider < sphere of usefulness?' And why?" "I've arranged for a transfer. I can't stay here. I want to forget a-a few isodes." e p"I'm not an episode, and you couldn't for- get me anywhere you'd go," crowed the pretty egoist. Besides, how should we man. age without you to square the bishop, and soothe the cranks, and generally do the parish chores? You're maybe flitting to the market town ? "Farther than that." "Dublin, then?" She was across the rails and beside him, rudely elbowing him to make room for herself on the organ stool. He moved to the extreme verge. "Don't say it'aDublin, Micfcev boy." "It's Australia. I leave at the end of the summer. A faint gulping sound in her throat set his pulses bounding. "Would you alter your decision to-to keep me? he asked. She shook her head. "Cathy, when God made you He left out mercy and pity." It would have been more tragic, Mickey, had He made me plain." They did not speak for a time. She fin- gered the organ keys, and got dust on her hands, and held them for Mickey to wipe on his handkerchief, and was blankly indignant when he declined and began to gather up his scattered music. "Grumpy?" she inter- rogated. That's new, and variety hath charms, but what do you mean by it?" Can't you let me be at peace," he said despairingly. You haven't noticed me for weeks. It's a whim of yours to treat me gracioufy to-night. I'm sick of whims, Cathy, and I'd prefer to be ignored. If there was the slightest fragment of hope to cling to I'd bear anything, but there isn't. You 11 have none of me. You'd rather scheme to marry a man who doesn't love you, and whom you do not love." Fancy loving the Viking!" she ex- claimed with mirth. He'd weary me aw- fully if he were not-what he is. I don't admire big men, isn't it curious And ruddy gold hair and blue eyes areu't my idea of male beauty par excellence. Your hair, Mickey, is a nice ash colour." He did not seem .unduly elated. And your eyes-they used to be hazel. Are they still hazel. Let me look." She pursued him round the pen, and ho stood at bay in a corner and reprimanded her forwardness, and her irreverence in church, Cathy listening mock modestly. She developed a cough after her exertions, and feared she might not live to be old, and that being so nobody ought to scold her or speak crossly. Had he heard the cough? Mickey said he had not. I can do it again. It's no trouble," said the trickster obligingly, and proceeded to curdle his blood and wrap him in chill sweats of terror. Consumption had slain Cathy's mother. "You see I'm not robust, hardship would kill me," she sighed. I need comforts and luxuries. They cost money, and you've hardly any, so I couldn't be your wife, poor Mickey, could I? You'd be sorry if I married you and—and pined in poverty." I'd die of sorrow," he said hoarsely. That would be waste of two lives." It's you I'm thinking of, Cathy, only you." Thank you," brushing her red mouth against his. "That's sweet of you." From outside the pen she called softly: Good-night, Mickey." His Good-night, God bless you," shamed her oddly, took the relish out of the paltry jest to which Mickey's solemn earnestness had given zest. Hurrying home in irritable mood, the wind carried to her sounds of altercation. She stopped, peering into the gloom of the road in front. It is Dorn," she whispered, and—yes— that's Cheveral. Dorn left my lord: no doubt, when he'd been stirred up to the proper pitch, and Cheveral happened along at the unfortunate moment, and the other's soaked in brandy and mad for a quarrel." Gathering her skirt into her hands she ran towards them, and as she ran she heard a dull thud. CHAPTER XIV. HIS LORDSHIP, THE VAMPIRE. "Don't be alarmed," said Cheveral. It's only a tipsy rowdy who fell when I pushed him from me. He's quarrelsome and aching for a fight, but I'm not inclined to gratify him. Go before he rises. His language hasn't been very select." But he may attack you," said Cathy, moving closer, and the tender concern of her words and action flattered him. "I couldn't desert you like that. Is he stunned?" She pointed the toe of her shoe at Dorn, who answered her question by scrambliug awkwardly to his feet, the road dust grey on his back and his hatless head. Bamfylde, you struck me," he blustered. "You knocked me down." "I did not," Eric replied placidly. You attempted to seize me, and I repelled you, and your legs weren't steady, and you bowled over. You knocked me down," Dorn persisted. A scurVy trick. I said things that vexed you, but you haven't shut me up, and I'll say them as often as I choose. It's a free country." "Wait till the effects of Darkington's brandy wears off. Then you won't talk non- sense. Darkington's a good sort. He said I was sober as a judge and could call on you if I wished, but meeting you has saved me the trouble. He's my friend, a dashed good sort, feels for a fellow when he's persecuted. See here, Bamfylde, I was saying you weren't wanted at the Hill. Why do you stay where you aren't wanted? It's mean." I've told you not to interfere in what isn't your business." Flyn's business is mine. I'm her deputy. I've dismissed you. Ralph Dorn will be his own steward when he's master there." If Miss Macara is brought into this again we'll have bother. Get away as quickly as you can." And if Dad sees you we'll be without a paying guest to-morrow," Cathy struck in acidly. guest to-morrow, "Is that the parson's daughter?" Dorn jeered. What's she doing here? Let men settle their disputes, Miss Cathy, and you can settle the curate's. He's no man. A milksop. We're men. Look at that arm. It could fell an ox, and as for Bamfylde's flimsy pate- "I won't speak to you!" she said con- temptuously. "The Little White Witch has the same cry., Won't speak,' says she; but won't to-night may be will to-morrow. Life's a see-saw, and after I've chucked Bamfylde she'll change her mind." Eric took him by the collar and marched him along the road, Dorn resisting and grappling with him. "Didn't I tell you not to mention her?" said Erie. shaking him, and being shaken, for Ralph of the talkative tongue was no weakling either. "White Witch, indeed!" scoffed envious Cathy. "I wouldn't separate them if they fought like Kilkenny cats." Carriage lamps shone at the curve of the road, and she had barely time to huddle behind a heap of stones when the Tallyho waggonette tore down upon the pair, and would have crashed into them had not the coachman jerked his horses almost on their haunches. Joyce-Duffy and his sons leant across the side. "los Bamfylde." roared Percy. "And Dorn," cried Gerald. Their parent contributed to the noise. "Is it a brawl?" he squeaked. Eric cheerily bade them drive on, and said there was nothing wrong. To Dorn he said softly, "Quiet, you fool. "He's lying!" Dorn shouted. "He as- saulted me. We had a dispute about a lady. Take your hand off my mouth, Bamfylde. You know it was about a lady. I've sacked him. gentlemen all, and he won't go. Nice state of affairs when a beggarly steward is sacked and won't go! 'Ia "About a lady," sniggered Joyce-Duffy pere. Fie, Bamfylde!" Eric looked annoyed. "Why do you pay any attention to the ravings of a man fuddled with drink? I'm not quarrelling. I on!y want him to go home quietly." "We'll give you a lift, Dorn," said Percy. "Climb up." "I wouldn't sit in your company!" he snarled, forgetting how often he had done io. "Y<)u're a lot of rotters. Miss Macara isn't fit society for old Nick's wife and daughters, it appears. Gad it's laughable! But one of these days you'll laugh at the wrong side of your mouths, and crawl on your marrow-bones to kow-tow to her." I The faces of the trio changed, and became glacial. "Get off the road, sir!" said Nicholas, in his severest magisterial manner, "and curb I your scurrilous tongue. You are a pest, sir! Pull him out of the way of the wheels, Bamfylde, and leave him. I'll speak to the rector and Darkington. It's disgraceful having that fellow in the place tit all. If the young woman he champions-" Percy gave him a warning tug, and he neinmetl and hawed, remembering that the young woman had bewitched Bamfylde also. "If Bamfylde touches me I'll put a bullet through him," said Dorn, and as he spoke he dropped a revolver, lifted it, and re- stored it to his breast pocket. Jamming his hat on his head, he intimated that a time when there were fewer cads on the road would suit him better for a chat with the steward, "whom I have dismissed," he con- 3luded. "Old Nick, you can bear witness I've dismissed him." He lurched down a lane leading to the Lodge. "Gone to Darkington's," fumed Nicholas, smarting under the disrespect paid him and his. paid him and his. "Your cousin vouched for his social standing, but to-night's exhi- bition isn't in his favour." You can't judge him by to-night," re- plied Eric. A peer and a coal porter might be much alike if both were drunk." "At any rate, be careful of him while he has that revolver, or he may do you a mis- shief. The waggonette bowled onward, and from Tallyho's drawing-room and servants' hall the story went forth that Dorn had endea- voured to fasten a quarrel on Bamfylde, of which Miss Macara was the cause, that he was consumedly jealous, and carried fire- arms with evil intent. (To be Continued).



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