ͣĪɣȿ˾2020-09-27 23:47:14


ҽԺ17Ԫҩ Ϊʲôҩ498Ԫѡ


“Mr. Howard, I think?” he said.

“Yes,” she said, without looking up.“You think that, you say that,” she said, with a kind of sad bitterness. “Would you answer me frankly, truthfully, if I were to ask you a question, Lord Trafford?For the last two days Lady Ada had opened the bag, and helped read and answer the letters, and this morning Lilias gave the key to her almost as a matter of course.

“It’s true, boys. They’ve found me, and I’ve got to go. I don’t want to go—to leave you all”—a big tear rolled down her cheek and fell on the stocking she still held in her hand—“but I’ve got to go. But I’m coming back—I’m coming back soon. Don’t make it hard for me!” she pleaded, as the crowd murmured audibly. “Tell them, Varley!” She went into the hut with her arm across her eyes like a heart-broken child.“How old do you think it is?” he asked.

She put her hand to her lips for a moment, as if to steady them, for they were quivering.

At Three Star they worked hard, drank hard, gamed hard, and fought hard. Sometimes they were flush, and proceeded to paint their own, and neighboring camps, a brilliant red; at others, luck was bad and times were hard; but, whether the luck was good or bad, they were always cheerful, always ready for a drink or a fight, and ever prompt to help a friend or shoot a foe.“N-o, my lady,” stammered Barker; and she obeyed. “What will your ladyship wear, then?” she asked.Norman thanked him.

“You know!” she repeated, fiercely. “You are acting! Norman, you are a scoundrel!”

Varley nodded.Trafford leaned back and listened to her, and watched the play of her expressive countenance with a strange mixture of sensations. Her evident affection for her old home, her natural eloquence—for there was eloquence in her description—charmed him, and only now and again was he repelled by some word or phrase which, though they were softened by the musical voice and innocence of the speaker, reminded him that she was a waif from the wilds. His manner toward her was gravely deferential and gentle, and that, on its side, had a charm for Esmeralda. Without knowing it she began to understand why Norman Druce had been so enthusiastic in his laudations of this cousin of his.

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Lady Wyndover declared for tea at once, and Lady Lilias gave it them. Esmeralda watched her curiously and with pleasure. She had never seen any one so small, so dainty, and with such a self-possessed and matronly air behind her youth. As they were drinking their tea and chatting, Lord Selvaine came in. He greeted Esmeralda as an old friend, and with a little empressement, which indicated his consciousness of her new importance.“Count three and throw it in the air,” he said. “You understand?” he added, addressing Trafford.

“Why, Norman!” he cried. “Is it really you? My dear fellow, I am glad to see you.“I know not. But it will give us time. It will be something to have hidden the truth until—until after the funeral.” His head drooped.

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