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.I>- [COPYRIGHT.] A DAUGHTER OF THE TROPICS. BY FLORENCE MARRYAT, Author of Love's Conflict," "Véronique," etc. CHAPTER XXI. I THE UNEXPECTED VISITOR. I WHILST this little episode was occurring between Esme Fielding and his mother at Applecourt, Colonel Escott and Mrs. Arlington had much need of mutual comfort in London. The marriage—a quiet affair, at which no one but the principal actors concerned were present- was over. Mark Kerrison had seen such long faces pulled each time the subject was alluded to, and Lily Power shrank so palpably from publicity, that between his dread of ridicule, and her dread of criticism, they had walked into church one morning by themselves, and emerged thence as man and wife. For the same reason Mr. Kerrison had not been able to persuade Miss Power to re-enter the house, of which she was so soon to be the mistress, so that the inmates had not seen her since the day of the dinner-party and a letter, which the bride- groom posted to Escott the day of the wedding, as tkey were starting for the Highlands, was the first intimation the household received that their master was married. It was written in Mark's usual affectionate style, yet the Colonel did not feel much the happier for its reception. Dear old chum," he said, you must join us as soon as ever you can, for I shall not begin to enjoy myself until you arrive. Don't be afraid that we shall bore you by an exhibition of conjugal bliss. Lilv is the most sensible woman I ever met, and agrees with me that such things are best kept for privacy. The land-agent at Glencara writes me word the birds are very plentiful this season, and there is room for six guns on the little preserve. If you come-which, of course, you will-I shall ask Chantrell to join us, and then you will be always sure of a companion. Or would you prefer to bring young Fielding? Do just as you please, old man only come as soon after the twentieth as you can." But Escott would not go. He did not doubt the sincerity of Kerrison's invitation, but hr, had no heart to accept it. "Mark must give me a little more time to become reconciled to the idea of his being a married man," he said in confidence to Mrs. Arlington, as they sat at dinner together. It is stupid of me, I suppose, but I cannot realise it. He has always been the embodiment of freedom to me. It seems so impossible to picture him tied to a woman's apron-string—perhaps to the couch of a sickly woman, for she looks anything but healthy to me —and obliged to give up his bachelor dinners, and come home early and play propriety. I feel as if he would not be the same Mark I have known. And (if I am not mistaken, Mrs. Arlington) you think much as I do." For Lola Arlington had been unusually grave and quiet since the reception of the news, although her heart was thirsting to find some means of revenge. "You are quite right, Colonel," she answered, with a sigh. "Of course, it is not my part to criticise any action of Mr. Kerrison's, but-I speak to you in the strictest confidence-I cannot help thinking this marriage ill-advised. I have thought so from the beginning. I don't know that, under any circumstances, Mr. Kerrison would be happy as a married man, but he should at least have united himself to someone in the game position of life." Miss Power is a lady," rejoined Escott quickly; at least I have always understood so." "Oh, I daresay she says so, Colonel, but I don't know what means Mr. Kerrison has taken to ascer- tain the truth. She has never produced any of her relations. He is not even aware if the name she goes by is her own." "I think Mark must have made sure of that!" fsaid her companion, uneasily. "But it certainly teems very strange that we have heard nothing of het- lariiily. She is bound to Jiave kinsmen some- where. And this exceedingly private marriage- too I am sorry Kerrison agreed to it. It may make ill-natured people fancy there is something wrong." I'llhey e sure to say that," replied Mrs. Arlington, with a dubious laugh; and I am afraid poor Mr. Kerrison will find he has laid up trouble fur himself. However, it is done now, and no one can help him. But I suppose you will join them a time, Colonel Escott It will do you good to have a little change, and there is no saying how soon your friend may require the com- fort of your presence." I have no intention of doing so," said the Colonel, with a tender glance beaming from his blue eyes. London whilst you are here—is quite good enough for me, and leaves me no desire for change. If Mark had proposed to ask you to Glencara to be my companion, instead of Chantrell, it might have formed an inducement for me to alter my plans. As it is, there is none." It will be seen by these words that the pledge of friendship entered into by Colonel Escott and Mrs. Arlington on a certain Sunday evening, some time before, had been more than redeemed. In- deed, in the infatuated woman's desire to pique Mark Kerrison, by an affectation of interest in nis friend, she had said and listened to a great deal more on the part of the latter than she had at first intended, and did not see the way open for her to draw back. "And what are your plans?" she answered, smiling. If I thought there was any chance of your being in the same place, I should run down for a few weeks to the seaside, but I suppose there is not ? said the Colonel, wistfully. My dear Colonel, what are you thinking of? What would become of the house and the servants if I were away ? Oh no, there is no hope of my having a holiday this year.. Here I remain until our people return." Then I shall do the same," replied Escott- "that is, I shall stay in London. I have seen a cosy set of chambers near the Marble Arch, which will just suit me, and it will take me some time to fit them up to my fancy. I am a regular old bachelor, Mrs. Arlington, a's you must have found out by this time-fussy and fidgety to a degree- and I shall want everything about me to be very nice.. Will you give me the benefit of your taste in furnishing ? It will be so very kind of you, and I shall value my things twice as much if they have met with your approval." Of course I will give you all the assistance in my power, Colonel," said Lola bashfully. "Al- though I shall be dreadfully sorry to see you go away, and the house will seem empty to me after Your departure." "My dear girl," cried Escott, getting hold of one of her hands, "how I wish I could persuade t to come and keep house for me What a happy I arn me we might make for ourselves together comfor?t *s true > kut I have enough for use tryi anc* But there—I suppose it is of no He t0 ^emP^ y°u leave Kerrison she avoidSe<^ ^er hand again as he concluded, and to arrange tlthe <luestion in his eyes by professing Leave°K:err-lace.on her bo8om' could have i *nc'ee<^ • If the simple Colonel read h<Jw hope? lnto *ier heart he would have My dear ceis such an attempt would be. suggestion; but°vn!' 1 feel 80 flattered by your possible. Whatever know the pian is im. Mr. Kerrison's serviC(?Tld PeoP\ say if I left you? You forget that ? §0 and keep house for woman, with nothing V*111 a ,Poor unprotected living by my character to earn a say/'butTh^pe yo^d^ thi°g for to meaning. The highest lady 7 not receive more honour than T i ju °°Ui J°u; but my tinj^^ Vo^d tiSilT I Went°'° aC°Pe f°r eXemSe J'our domestic "If it is so tiny I daresay I shall be able to manage them both," said Mrs. Arlington, gailv • a«d having ordered Mr. Kerrison's dinner here' run over to give an eye to the cleaning of VOur f«rmture theie." "18 that a promise?" exclaimed the Colonel eagerly. "May I really hope, that you wiU some- times brighten my rooms with your presence, and cheer up a lonely old bachelor with your charming talk ? For I shall be really lonely, Mrs. Arlington, when I leave you." And do you suppose I shall not feel the same ?" she answered, dropping her eyes. He seized her hand again, pressed it, and re- leased it with a sigh. Then-as if he dared not trust himself longer in her presence—he turned from her suddenly and left the room. Lola Arlington looked after him with a smile of derision upon her countenance. In consequence of this conversation the next day's post conveyed a letter of hearty congratulation to the newly-married pair in the Highlands, but a decided refusal to visit Glencara. And for the next fortnight Colonel Escott and Mrs. Arlington might have been met in diverse places, with their heads close together in earnest consultation over the variousmerits of inky-blue or terra-cotta; over silks and stuffs, or wall-papers. Every article of furniture for the new chambers was chosen according to the taste of Lola Arlington, or made up under her direction; and bystanders who only watched the game would have been puzzled to know with what object (Mr. Kerrison being out of her reach) this woman toiled to keep herself on good terms with Colonel Escott. But she never did anything without a purpose. She saw, in this honest, simple gentleman, a tool ready made to her hands for the future, and that it was to her ad- vantage to keep him in the dark with regard to her real feelings. What pain he might suffer in consequence never troubled her mind for a moment. She thought only of herself and her own benefit. She saw that he was kind-hearted and susceptible, and greatly admired her, and trusted, by playing on his feelings, to secure a friend for the hour of need. Things were in this position one day towards the end of August when she returned home hot, tired, and dusty, to be informed that a lady was in the drawing-room, waiting to see her. Mrs. Arlington's first impulse was to deny herself to the visitor. She had been standing about all day choosing carpets and curtains, and fatigued herself too much even to do justice to the luncheon which the Colonel had gallantly provided for her after- wards. Besides, she knew of no lady whom it would be to her interest to receive. She was not a woman to make friends with her own sex-as a rule she detested them and the few female guests Mark Kerrison invited to his house were not in the habit of calling on Mrs. Arlington afterwards. Yet the footman informed her that the visitor had asked for her distinctly by name, and been waiting for more than half an hour to see her. She therefore concluded it was her duty to inquire at least what she wanted. As she entered the drawing-room a tall, thin, dark woman, fashionably attired, rose from the sofa and bowed to her. Mrs. Arlington, I presume ?" That is my name, madam. Perhaps you are not aware that Mr. Kerrison is absent from home and will not return for another month." "It is you I called to see, and not Mr. Kerrison," replied the visitor for although I know him very well by name, I am not personally acquainted with him. I am Mrs. Fielding, the mother of Mr. Esme Fielding, whom you may have seen here." Have I really the pleasure of speaking to Mrs. Fielding ? cried Lola, her interest in the stranger immediately aroused. "How sorry I am, madam, to think that you should have been kept waiting. But it is unavoidable. I have been out all day choosing furniture for Colonel Escott; and he is away too, I regret to say he is about, to leave us on account of Mr. Kerrison's marriage, of which doubt- less you have heard. I am afraid it will be a terrible break up for us all. And of course you want to see the Colonel ? No, Mrs. Arlington, (as I said before) I have No, Mrs. Arlington, (as I said before) I have come up to London from Applescourt this morning expressly to see you. I have a strong motive, as ¡ you may imagine—one known only to myself. And I I should not venture to place so much confidence in a stranger if my son Esme had not mentioned your kindness to him in glowing terms to me." "Mr. Esm<5 Fielding is too good," murmured Mrs. Arlington. I have often seen him here but I cannot recall any occasion on which I have been enabled so show him more than ordinary I civility. But will you not remove your walking- things, and allow me to offer you some refresh- j ment ? Travelling on such a day must have greatly fatigued you. I should advise a little rest and a cup of tea before you honour me with the confidence you have alluded to." This was iusfc what Mrs. Fielding desired. She was not prepared to make a full disclosure of her reason for visiting London at once. She wanted to beat about the bush and feel her way a little ¡ before she opened fire. And Mrs. Arlington was I just of the same mind. Whatever Esme's mother had come to find out, she would have to show her hand more openly before she obtained any satis- factory information. They were well matched to sit down and play a, game of speculation to- gether. CHAPTER XXII. I SHE WAS A LILY TOO. J AT last, when they were rested and refreshed, and 11 had mutually paid various compliments, and prac- tised a little light skirmishing, after the manner of women who intend to work out each other's secrets, Mrs. Arlington led Mrs. Fielding into Colonel Escott's sanctum, and seated her in a luxurious arm-chair near the open window. "Here, my dear madam," she said, suavely, we shall be secure from interruption, and as comfort- able, I think, as this unpleasantly warm weather I will permit us to be. This was poor Colonel Escott's sitting-room. I little thought when I superintended its arrangement, on his return from India, last May, that he would give it up so eoon." It is a charming little apartment," replied Mrs. I Fielding, looking around her, and furnished with exquisite taste. But why do you sigh, Mrs. Arling- i ton, when you speak of Colonel Escott Is it not I his own choice to leave Mr. Kerrison's house ? j Yes, madam, it is certainly, for nothing would induce him to remain. But he feels it acutely for j vll that. You see, Mr. Kerrison and he always j intended the remain single, and live together to the j end of their lives. And so they would have done I had this—this lady not unfortunately come in the j way ] His marriage was a sudden arrangement, then, I on the part of Mr. Kerrison? r "Very sudden I don't think he had known I her for more than a couple of months And who is she, Mrs. Arlington ?" I cannot tell you, madam, for I do not know! I But to what branch of the Power family does j she belong ? It's an Irish name. You must have j seen some of her relations ? j No we never saw any of them." 1 Not at the wedding ?" j "The wedding took place privately. Even Colonel Escott and I heard nothing of it until it I was over Dear me That is very extraordinary said Mrs. Fielding. "And with a man of Mr. Kerri- son's fame and popularity too What is the young lady like ? Is she very beautiful ? lady like ? Is she very beautiful ? You might call her so," replied Mrs. Arlington, carelessly. She is tall and thin, with a pale complexion, colourless hair, and washed-out eyes. She impresses me with the idea of consumption; but tastes differ. I suppose Mr. Kerrison con- siders her perfection. I have heard him say she is the personification of her name Lily." < Mrs. Fielding's eyes had twinkled brightly at Mrs. Fielding's eyes had twinkled brightly at Mrs. Arlington's description of the bride, but she only remarked, demurely Lily is not a common name Lily is not a common name "It is a striking one. Perhaps Miss Power- Mrs. Kerrison, I should say—adopted it for the purposes of the stage." "Was she on the stage, Mrs. Arlington How shocking "She was indeed! She appeared in London first in Mr. Kerrison's play, Miss Credo. That is how they met. A great misfortune, I am afraid but it is no use regretting it. And all this time we are neglecting the object of your visit, Mrs. Fielding. I am quite anxious to learn in what way I can be of assistance to you." Mrs. Fielding's eyes were still twinkling with the light of success, but she pretended to be struggling with her difficulty. Well, my dear Mrs. Arlington, I feel more diffident as I approach the subject, and less certain that I shall not be worrying you to no purpose but it was a word or two diopped by Esme that broueht me here. At the same time, as the opinions of mothers and sons do not always agree, may I first claim your kind promise to keep my visit and its design a secret ? Oh, certainly cried Lola Arlington, who would have promised anything to get at the truth. The fact is, that some time ago I had a girl at Applescourt who turned out very badly. I had engaged her as a companion for myself, having no daughter, whilst my son was abroad. But on his return to England, this girl laid herself out deliberately to entrap the poor boy, and did so far succeed as to cover herself with disgrace, and necessitate my sending her away without warning or character. So far my story is a common one. Such unpleasantnesses happen, I fancy, in most families." "They certainly do happen-sometimes," ac- quiesced Mrs. Arlington, cautiously. Naturally I was very anxious that, once separated, these young people should not meet again. My son Esme is my only child, Mrs. Arlington. He comes of a high family on both sides, and he is the sole heir to all my property. You may judge, then, how much I desire that, when he marries, it shall be according to my wishes, and someone of whom I can entirely ap- prove. And yet I cannot help feeling that he still hankers after this wretched creature, Lily Prescott." "She was a Lily too exclaimed Mrs. Arling- ton, involuntarily. "Yes that is perhaps why the name of the bride struck me as unpleasantly familiar; and, strange to say, Mr. Arlington, your description of Mrs. Kerrison tallies wonderfully with that of Miss Prescott. You noticed, perhaps, my surprise when you mentioned her appearance. I have a bad habit of betraying my feelings. Though, of course, it can only be a chance resemblance. We meet many people as we pass through this world— perfect strangers to each other-who might be taken for relations. But I have Lily Prescott's photograph with me," fumbling in her pocket as she spoke. It was taken when I believed she was a girl to be trusted, and I. found it in one of my drawers yesterday, and brought it up to see if you could recognize it CHAPTER XXIII. I "I MAY CLAIM MY REWARD." I [ In making her last observation Mrs. Fielding played a wrong card, and was made to acknow- ledge the error without delay. Mrs. Arlington drew herself up stiffly, and inquired How can I possibly recognise a person I have never seen, Mrs. Fielding? The name of Prescott is quite unfamiliar to me. I do not remember to. have heard it before. Did anyone tell you that I had?" Mrs. Fielding saw she had put her on her guard. She could have bitten out her tongue the next minute for doing it, but it was too late to rectify the error. So she stammered, lamely Well, to tell you the truth, dear Mrs. Arling- ton, Esm6 did (in speaking of his London friends to me) so nearly reveal that he had met Lily Pres- cott again, that I have been puzzling my brains ever since to think where it could have happened, and determined to come up and ask your advice. You see it might have been anywhere, and knowing Mr. Keriison received so many young ladies from the theatres and such-like places, I thought it might have been here. And-now let me make a friend of you, dear madam, and tell you everything t —I would give hundreds to prevent Esme meeting this girl again. She is thoroughly bad and un- principled, and-you will forgive a mother's anxiety for her only son-she is not a fit associate for any young man. And I thought perhaps—if it were here he had met her-I should be doing a kindness also to you (who have been so kind to my dear boy) by putting you on your guard against her." But Mrs. Fielding had done more-she had put Mrs. Arlington on guard against herself. The fair Lola had taken in the situation at a glance. If her rival should prove to be the disgraced Lily Prescott under an assumed name, she held the game in her own hands, to be played as suited her convenience. And she meant to have no partner in it. It was to be a game of solitaire. All she needed for her purpose was to see the photograph. I cannot thank you sufficiently for your kind Interest in me, Mrs. Fielding," she answered, sweetly but I hardly think I shall be able to help you. Is Miss Prescott on the stage ? "I have heard nothing of her since she left my service. She disgraced herself too terribly for me to wish to hear anything. But she may be for ftught I know to the contrary." Perhaps the photograph will help us," said Mrs. Arlington, lightly. Mrs. Fielding placed it in her hands. Yes, there was no doubt about it. It was the likeness of Lily Power She had been less thin in those youthful days. The face was rounder-the smile more content; but the girl who stood for that picture was the same girl Mark Kerrison had made his wife. And yet Mrs. Arlington gazed at it without the least sign of recognition on her countenance. It is a pretty face," she remarked, presently and the young lady must have been very youthful when it was taken." You do not recognise it, then?" inquired Mrs. Fielding, anxiously. Lola Arlington looked up at her with open eyes. Recognise it! How could 11 I told you I had never even heard the name before." "But people change their names occasionally, and I am sure she had every reason to change hers. Does it remind you of anybody you have Been ? Mrs. oArlington shook her head determinately. No one. But if your heart is very much bent on discovering if Mr. Esme Fielding, is still in com. munication with this yo-D. lady, I might be able to help you in my poor wav." I shall be everlastingly grateful to you if you ¡1J. But how shall you set about it?" Ah, that is my secret, Mrs. Fielding cried the other, laughing; "and you must not ask me to divulge it. Only leave me the photograph for a few weeks, and you shall have the first intimation of any discovery I may make." You will not show it to my son, or tell him of my visiting you ? said the mother, fearfully. "Mrs. Fielding am I a woman? Please credit me with a little more finesse and tact than that amounts to. Of course I shall not allude to the subject by so much as the merest hint before Mr. Fielding. But I may tell you one thing-he has already gone so far as to tell me that there is a young lady in London whose address he is anxious to discover. But this was months ago he may have found her out before now." "I am sure he has cried Mrs. Fielding, clasp- ing her hands. If you had seen his change of manner the other morning when I read out to him the announcement of Mr. Kerrison's marriage, you would have divined at once there was something wrong. Indeed it was that which excited my suspicions. I could not help suspecting-you must promise me never to mention this again, but I could not help believing-that Miss Lily Power and Lily Prescott were one and the same person but I should not dare to say so to anyone but your- self." Mrs. Arlington's sense of the ludicrous was so tickled by this idea that her mirth was positively infectious. "Oh! dear, Oh dear," she gasped. "What would poor dear Mr. Kerrison say to such a notion ? 1 believe he would kill you, or me, or Mr. Esm6 Fielding The Lily Bride a disgraced companion. My dear madam, pray-pray never speak of such a doubt again. You must have been utterly and completely led away by your imagination. Mrs. Mark Kerrison is an elegant, stately young person who has never stooped to service, or had the least slur cast upon her character. You must put this ridiculous fancy out of your head once and for ever." Mrs. Fielding was a lady of much importance in her own estimation, and did not at all relish being called ridiculous by a housekeeper. But when we have placed ourselves in the wrong, we are apt to be compelled to swallow humble pie. The mistress of Applecourt had to do so on this occasion, and join in the laugh against herself. "I am really ashamed to think I should have made such a ludicrous mistake," she faltered, "but you must ascribe it entirely to my solicitude about my son. I know how obstinate young men are, and that the very opposition they encounter makes their wishes ten times more desirable to them. I would give," she continued presently—for she could not divest her mind of the idea that Mrs. Arling- ton knew more than she chose to divulge-" I would give anyone a hundred pounds who would bring me undeniable proofs that Lily Prescott is dead, or married." The first will be the safer assurance to receive of the two," replied Lola Arlington. Well, Mrs. Fielding, I will keep my eyes open on your behalf, and perhaps some day I may come and claim my reward. Meanwhile-" "Meanwhile if you ever come across her under any circumstances, keep my dear Esmé, at all risks, out of her sight." I I Ah now, my dear madam, you set me a task beyond my powers, for, believe me, I have no in- fluence over Mr. Fielding. His godfather, who is really fond of him, would be a far better person to apply to." "Ah! no," exclaimed Mrs. Fielding with a shudder; "Colonel Escott is too good and unworldly for my purpose. He would advise my boy to marry the girl, whatever came of it. He holds these old-fashioned ideas of love and honour, which are very estimable, no doubt, but quite unfitted to assist a young man to make his way through the world." He is a truly good man," said Mrs. Arlington, with one of those sudden convictions which are borne in occasionally on every soul, however low it may have sunk in wickedness. "Oh, certainly But in a case like this we want tact, and not virtue; and it is to your tact, Mrs. Arlington, that I look for assistance in my extremity." 4' I will do my best for you," repeated the younger woman, as she pocketed the photograph and lay back in her chair, as though to intimate the subject was exhausted. But long after Mrs. Fielding had returned to Applecourt, Lola Arlington sat there, with her full, dark eyes turned up to the evening sky, and tried to think out the mystery. There was no doubt of one thing-Lily Prescott, the discharged and disgraced companion of Mrs. Fielding, and Lily Power, the wife of the most popular dramatist of the day, and the mistress of the house she sat in, were one and the same person. So far all was plain and Esmé Fielding had been the lover of Lily Prescott, and was the lover of Lily Kerrison. So much she had gleaned from maman's prophecies and his own admissions; and she loved Kerrison with all her heart and soul, and would give her life to see her rival exposed and cast out upon the world again But how to manage it without bringing down the wrath of the outraged husband on her devoted head? Here was a pretty mystery !—an intricate game of chance But life to Lola Arlington was composed of such intrigues she cared for nothing else. (To be continued.)




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