stained her little hands--she said with engaging simplicity that she had been digging potatoes. He knew he was regaled with lemonade and water biscuits, and that she sat and smiled, and looked like a Madonna, while her father talked of missions and asked innumerable questions concerning India. Was the heat out there actually so severe? Was there constant danger from snakes and wild beasts? Was it true that the social life was demoralising to the European? And how about the question of drink, and the example set in that respect, and others, by the English? Also, was it a fact that the Oriental was possessed of strange faculties that could not be explained, and had Captain Coventry himself ever seen a man climb up a rope and vanish into space?
Gertrude Creswell was not wrong in her supposition that Mr. Benthall intended asking her to become his wife. It is not often that mistakes are made in such matters, despite all we read of disappointed maidens and blighted hopes. Life is so very practical in this portion of the nineteenth century, that, except in very rare cases, even love-affairs scarcely care to avail themselves of a halo of romance, of that veil of mystery and secrecy which used to be half the charm of the affair. "The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love" are now never seen, in anything like good society, where the intention of two young persons to marry as soon as--sometimes before--they have met, and the "understanding" between them is fully recognised by all their friends; while as to the "matron's glance which would such looks reprove," it is entirely obsolete, and never brought into play, save when the bashful virgins bend their sidelong looks of love on good-looking young paupers in the government offices or the army--a proceeding which it is but fair to say the bashful virgins "of the period" very rarely indulge in. Gertrude Creswell was as unlike a "girl of the period," in the present delightful acceptation of that phrase, as can well be imagined; that is to say, she was modest, frank, simple, honest, and without guile; but she was a woman, and she knew perfectly that she had engaged George Benthall's attention, and become the object of his affection, although she had had no previous experience in the matter. They had lived such quiet lives, these young ladies, and had slid so tranquilly from the frilled-trouser-wearing and les-graces-playing period of childhood, to the long skirts, croquet, and flirtation of marriageable age, that they had hardly thought of that largest component part of a girl's day-dream, settling in life. There was with them no trace of that direct and unmistakable line of demarcation known as "coming out"--that mountain-ridge between the cold dreary Switzerland of lessons, governesses, midday dinner, back-board, piano practice, and early bed, and the lovely glowing Italy of balls, bouquets, cavaliers, croquet, Park, Row, crush-room, country-house, French novel, and cotillon at five a.m. So Gertrude had never had a love-affair of any kind before; but she was very quiet about it, and restrained her natural tendency to gush, principally for Maude's sake. She thought it might seem unkind in her to make a fuss, as she described it, about her having a lover before Maude, who was as yet unsuited with that commodity. It puzzled Gertrude immensely, this fact of her having proved attractive to any one while Maude was by; she was accustomed to think so much of her elder sister, on whom she had endeavoured to model herself to the best of her ability, that she could not understand any one taking notice of her while her sister was present. Throughout her life, with her father, with her mother, and now with her uncle, Gertrude Creswell had always played the inferior part to her sister; she was always the humble confidante in white muslin to Maude in Tilburina's white satin, and in looks, manner, ability, or disposition, was not imagined to be able to stand any comparison with the elder girl.
The cold wave is his bridal bed,
"The first two are Lysmov and Votbinnik," Doc told her. "It isn't often that you see the current champion of the world—Votbinnik—and an ex-champion arm in arm. There are two other persons in the tournament who have held that honor—Jal and Vanderhoef the director, way back."
She shrugged her shoulders but attempted no other answer, and they did not speak again until they were back in the deep, overhung lane and within half a mile of Hartling. It was there that he made his last effort.
When he was alone in his own delightful bedroom, Arthur stood at the open window, listening to the sound of the rain and inhaling the welcome scents of the grateful earth. Already his mood of resentment against these four impotent old people had passed. They had snubbed and checked him, given him to understand that though he might, indeed, know something of the facts of their position, he knew nothing of the spirit. But he could not cherish anger against them, nor even contempt. They had been in shackles too long; he could not reasonably expect them to enter with him into any kind of conspiracy against the old man. They were so helpless, so completely dependent upon his goodwill. Nevertheless, although they had given him no authority, he meant to persist in his endeavour although he risked expulsion from this Paradise of comfort and well-being. He was genuinely anxious to help his uncle, aunt, and cousin, and he thrilled at the thought of crossing swords with Miss Kenyon. If he defeated her, it would, indeed, be a glorious victory.
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