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CHAPTER 1.- THE PLAY,
When it grew quite light in to lift my head and facethe morning I changed my Hugo. olothes and went out of the A nice position for me, all house. I had to find James streaming with tears at such to let me out, and as he did so an hour of the morning-too I notioed that the door was ridiculous and undignified ! He neither bolted
bolted nor looked, stood very quietly there and though he made quite a parade said, of opening it. There seem to " What's the matter? You be very few looks in Irish have been frightened.” houses, except broken ones. “No, I haven't," I said.
Nothing is quite as bad in “I've only had a bad night, the open air as it seems under and then I oame out too early, a roof. I wandered about the and missed my oup of tea. It's old walled garden, with its a stupid thing to do.” few late flowers all glistening Now isn't it extraordinary and wet and the borders very how one speaks the truth at weedy. I gathered my courage such moments, simply from the together, and began to think want of power to invent any. with determination about thing better? plans and where I should go Hugo didn't laugh. He ex. for the next few days. Just plainedthen some violets sent one of “I wanted to find you, and their wafts of sweetness into James told me where you had my face. It is an odd thing gone. I have something to that you cannot bear that say to you." kind of scent when you are Then he asked me to marry unstrung. I turned away at him. once down a long walk with I was so weak with surprise very old nut-trees shading one at that, that I leant against side of it.
the nat-tree again, and the A bird among the nut-trees bird broke into his song again, broke into a morning song, quite close above our heads. very fast and sweet, the notes . . . After which I have nothfalling about like a shower of ing to relate about the ensuing rain, and 80 joyful. Listening half-hour. Really it could to him I suddenly burst out have no possible interest ex. orying, and then began to sob oept to our two selves. heavily like a child. This was But as I have a great value perfeotly dreadful, because I for facts, and like to have a couldn't stop. I leant against perfectly clear grasp of them, & nut - tree, with my arms I did ask Hago one question. across one of its branches, and “Will you tell me," I said, my faoe bent down on them, “how you could be desperately trying to be steady. That very in love with one girl last evenmoment footsteps came down ing, and with another one this the walk behind me. I had morning ?”
“I simply loved her sing. Master Hugo, for the love o' ing," he said, “but I was God! Lave it to me, an' go thinking of you all the time you now and mind yer own she sang."
business with me Lady Jane." “That isn't all. Think how “Go to – Jericho!" said extraordinarily pretty she is !” Hugo in & fury. James fled I reminded him,
to his pantry, and I made a “About the prettiest girl dash for the door myself. I've ever seen,” he agreed. I was on the searob for
“With heaps and heaps of Lorna Dare. She was nomoney too,” I went on. where to be found in the house, “I believe you,
Do you 80 I went round to the stables, know how that Yankee fellow and heard her voice asking from Dablin desoribed her to some one to get her horse me in his enthusiasm ? 'She's ready the first thing after a regalar ring-tailed soreamer,' lunoh, as she wanted to exerhe said, “and with money that cise him. The man oame out it's soandalous !'”
as I went in; and naturally I “How pleased your people moved up to the loose box would have been if
where she was standing beside “But the trouble is, that I the horse, and made some redon't want her a bit more than mark about him. she wants me.”
“He isn't mine," she said, I left it alone after that. “I've only got him on trial.
We went in, and had break. He's five years old, and rather fast and all just as usual, and green, but he'll make a good nooneoould possibly have known fenoer some day. Not for me, from either of our faces that I imagine." anything had happened. I “Why not?” I asked stu. hate a fuss myself, and Hugo pidly. said his father would have quite And then, without waiting enough to think of that day. for an answer, I blundered He wasn't going to speak to straight into it. him about about marrying on
"Listen & moment," I said, morning when he hadn't even speaking low and quick, to the library to sit in, beoause get it over. “ This morning of preparations for the play. Hugo and I have promised The library was to be the to marry each other. Nobody green-room, it seemed.
knows. I came to tell you, as We were to act in the hall, it seemed the fair thing to do. Hugo and old James were If you'll let me say so, I'm maneuvring the “ourtain " awfully sorry for you. Of there for an hour. Sometimes course he doesn't know—and it desoended perfectly, and he never will." sometimes it stuck. I hap- I never found any words so pened to be ooming downstairs hard to utter. It felt like when I overheard James say- killing something to tell her. ing in a voice of exasper. In the silence that followed, ation
the horse's feet rustled in the “Will ye lave it alone, straw, and her slow hand
stroked his neok, but her face " You'd better” she said was turned away. Not that I darkly, and looked so threatwould have looked at her face ening that I flew for my own for anything. I'm glad to re- book of the play, and went member that she put out her over my words directly after band to me.
I held it for lunch. two seconds, and then I left I'm not nervous, but I had her alone. There was really never acted before, you see. nothing else to do, for she There was endless sourrying must have hated the sight up and down, chiefly in the of me.
hall, where James was plaoWhen you come to think of ing footlights in a row. I it, there's an element of hard- hope it wasn't deserting, but heartedness in the arrange- we went for a walk, Hugo ment of all human affairs. and I, beoause—well, I don't Why can't two people be per. know, but it seemed necesfeotly happy without a third sary. When we got back, it person being miserable? Why was to find every one finish. oan't one person win with. ing tea, and wondering about out another person losing ? Lorna, who had not returned. Why must person feel It was dusk already, and the guilty about a thing that business of the evening was really wasn't their fault? looming large before us. Hugo And then one is told that went out at last to the stables, everything is for the best; and I waited about aneasily but it isn't, -as far as I oan till he returned, and I heard see.
him report to EvaBut I must get on with my “It's all right. Her horse is story. There was rather å there, and the men saw her surprise when no Lorna ap- come back to the house. She peared at lunch. I informed must be upstairs now." them that she had a head. “Then I'll tell them to take aobe, and wasn't hungry, but fresh tes up to her room at was going for a ride to oure once. That will waste less it. I wanted to keep them time," said Eva, immensely from worrying her in her relieved, and hurrying off, room; that was all,
“Jane, do remind her that we “I hope she won't have a are all to have our faces done headache this evening," said up by that hairdresser woman, Eva, with a beginning of who is here already. We must anxiety in her voice.
go to her in the green-room, “Shouldn't wonder,” said one after another. She is not Jim. “Got & brute of a to go to our rooms, mind !-headache myself this minute, and besidesthe sort that makes you for- Eva vanished, instruotions get all your words. They're that one couldn't catoh still slipping from me now, like trailing in her wake, as it eels."
were. I went apstairs, and Eva fixed him with a stony watched till I saw the maid glare.
ooming up with the tea-tray. I gave her the message, and She was not to be seen, bade her deliver it very care. No one had seen her. fully, about the green-room “I must go and fetch her and everything; because of this minute,” Eva deolared, course Lorna wouldn't have and sped up the stairs like a cared to see me, of all people. lamplighter, The maid replied oheerfully- Exaotly at this junotare I
“Never foar!”-and tripped was seized with stage-fright or away.
whatever they call it, and beIt is an extraordinary reply gan to shake like a leaf. that Irish maids seem inolined “ All right!” said Hugo, to give on all oooasions. seeing me subside in my chair. .
I had hours to spars after “Now for the champagne! dressing, and nothing to de You'll be all right in two but to look from my window seconds.” at the motors coming up the And we all hastily drank avenue. I could see the head- the champagne which he had lights far away, and there was got ready at that psychological a dip where they were lost moment. In two seconds I to view, and then came & was all right, and ready for stretob of trees where the the fray. lights shone on dark fir-stems, “I can feel mine coming on which by day were rosy red. again, Hugo, real bad stageIt oocurred to me that this fright,” said that idiotio Jim. avenue which I thought so “Would you recommend any strange might one day be my more of the remedy ?” And most familiar outlook, and at that moment down oame that the motors were bringing Eva, nearly breathless, and the people who would be my deolaringneighbours and it was to be
I oouldn't see hoped-friends, our audience her. She wouldn't answer, for this evening.
Hugo, and her door was looked. The idea sent me downstairs Yes, locked. What does it in excellent time, to find the mean? We'll have to give it green-room fairly humming; all ap. Oh, Hugo!" the actors evidently excited by “Here, drink this,” oomthe noise the audience made manded Hugo, in a businesstaking their seats in the hall like way, handing her a glass and chattering. Eva, after of champagne. “It means all her exoitement during the that she has been taken ill, I week, had turned as cool and suppose. Who saw Miss Dare oollooted as any professional, last?” and was exhorting us not to be “ The maid who brought her slow in taking up our ones. tea at six o'clook," I said.
“Remember it's a one-act “It was Margaret. I spoke thing, and it ought to go fast,” to her, and sent Eva's messhe said. “If we let it drag sage.” at all, they'll get bored. And “I must find Margaret,” now—my goodness! where is said Eva, and darted out Lorna ?”
“It's all up.
She came back as swiftly, My eyes were on the olook in and caught Hugo by the arm. the hall corner, with its silvery
“Margaret never saw her at face shining out of a tall old all,” she said despairingly. case. As quietly as a shadow I “She knooked at her door, and saw Lorna Dare come quickly oouldn't get an answer, and down the stairs, ready dressed was afraid to go in, and she for her part, all in black, with left the tray on the table out- a long soarf about her. side the door, and went away She said nothing to us, gave because Judy or some one was a wave of her hand at the calling her. I don't believe clook, pointing to the time, and Lorna oame back at all! I stepped on to the stage. The don't believe she is in the bell rang, and the ourtain house! She has had an 80- went up. oident-__"
All the people in the ball “Eva, don't be an idiot,” wavered before my eyes. I said Hugo. “She did come had no idea before that back, for she brought her moment how imposing an horse baok. Didn't I see him audience is. But I didn't lose in the stable ? and the men my head, chiefly beoause I there said they had seen her hadn't time to. We were right go on to the house. If she in the middle of the play were not in her room, how before we seemed to have oame the door to be looked? fairly begun. There, do you see?”
I have a hazy idea that “But if she is up there something was left ont, near fainting or inoapable, or what. the beginning, but I'm not ever is the matter with her, sure what.
The others all she can't act, and we can't aot seemed to me to be acting without her. It's all up with brilliantly. I haven't a notion the play. You had better go how I did myself, but my voice out before the curtain and was like that of a complete make some sort of apology to stranger, and my head was in the audience."
a wbirl. Lorna's voice sounded Eva broke down. It was very strange to me too, and hard on her.
she looked deadly pale, but I “Well, I'll wait till the didn't wonder at that. Hers time is up," said Hugo de- was quite a small part, but oidedly. "It wants two she made it most effective, I minutes of the time still, be. thought. fore we ought to begin.
The audience was the really Perhaps she will pull herself ansatisfactory feature of the en. together, and come down. I tertainment. I couldn't make don't believe she will fail us, out what was the matter with if she can help it. Don't you them. They stared, they whisremember how she promised pered together, they rustled; to act this evening, whatever then they got very quiet-in happened? Hold up, Eva! fact, stony. It is not pleasant Get ready, all of you. to have an audience like that, Now then, time is up.' it doesn't help you along.