« ZurückWeiter »
him one sweet look. He took it, and once more the carriage began to move on.
"Where are you to be found?" he had the presence of mind to ask.
"At Lady Holmhurst's. Come to-morrow morning; I have something to tell you," she answered, and in another minute the carriage was gone, leaving him standing there in a condition of mind which really "can be better imagined than described."
AT HANOVER SQUARE.
EUSTACE could never quite remember how he got through the evening of that eventful day. Everything connected with it seemed hazy to him. As, fortunately for the reader of this history, we are, however, not altogether dependent on the memory of a young man in love, which is always a treacherous thing to deal with, having other and exclusive sources of information, we may as well fill the gap. First of all he went to his club and seized a "Red-book," in which he discovered that Lord Holmhurst's, or, rather, Lady Holmhurst's, London house was in Hanover Square.
Then he walked to his rooms in one of the little side-streets opening out of the Strand, and went through the form of eating some dinner; after which a terrible fit of restlessness got possession of him, and he started out walking. For three solid hours did that young man walk, which was, no doubt, a good thing for him, for one never gets enough exercise in London; and at the end of that time, having already been to Hammersmith and back, he found himself gravitating towards Hanover Square. Once there, he had little difficulty in finding
the number. There was light on the drawing-room floor, and, the night being warm, one of the windows was open, so that the lamp-light shone softly through the lace curtains. Eustace crossed over to the other side of the street, and, leaning against the iron railings of the square, looked up. He was rewarded for his pains, for, through the filmy curtain, he could make out the forms of two ladies seated side by side upon an ottoman, with their faces towards the window, and in one of these he had no difficulty in recognising Augusta. Her head was leaning on her hand, and she was talking earnestly to her companion. He wondered what she was talking of, and had half a mind to go and ring, and ask to see her. Why should he wait till to-morrow morning? Presently, however, better counsels prevailed, and, though sorely against his will, he stopped where he was till a policeman, thinking his rapt gaze suspicious, gruffly requested him to move on.
To gaze at one's only love through an open window is, no doubt, a delightful occupation, if a somewhat tantalising one; but if Eustace's ears had been as good as his eyes, and he could have heard the conversation that was going on in the drawing-room, he would have been still more interested.
Augusta had just been unfolding that part of her story which dealt with the important document tattooed upon her, to which Lady Holmhurst had listened "ore rotundo."
"And so the young man is coming here to-morrow
morning," said Lady Holmhurst; "how delightful! I am sure he looked a very nice young man, and he had very fine eyes. It is the most romantic thing that I ever heard of."
"It may be delightful for you, Bessie," said Augusta, rather tartly, "but I call it disgusting. It is all very well to be tattooed upon a desert island-not that that was very nice, I can tell you; but it is quite another thing to have to show the results in a London drawingroom. Of course, Mr. Meeson will want to see this will, whatever it may be worth; and I should like to ask you, Bessie, how I am to show it to him? It is on my neck."
"I have not observed," said Lady Holmhurst drily, "that ladies, as a rule, have an insuperable objection to showing their necks. If you have any doubt on the point, I recommend you to get an invitation to a London ball. All you will have to do will be to wear a low dress."
“I have never worn a low dress," said Augusta.
"Ah, well," said Lady Holmhurst darkly; "I daresay that you will soon get used to that. But, of course, if you won't, you won't; and, under those circumstances, you had better say nothing about the will--though," she added learnedly, "of course that would be compounding a felony."
"Would it? I don't quite see where the felony comes in."
"Well, of course, it is this way: you steal the will
-that's felony; and if you don't show it to him, I suppose you compound it; it is a double offence-compound felony."
"Nonsense!" answered Augusta to this exposition of the law, which was, it will be admitted, almost as lucid and convincing as that of an average Q.C. "How can I steal my own shoulders? It is impossible."
"Oh, no; not at all. You don't know what funny things you can do. I once had a cousin whom I coached for his examination for the Bar, and I learnt a great deal about it then. Poor fellow! he was plucked
"I am sure I don't wonder at it," said Augusta rudely. "Well, I suppose I must put on this low dress; but it is horrid-perfectly horrid! You will have to lend me one, that is all."
"My dear," answered Lady Holmhurst, with a glance at her widow's weeds, "I have no low dresses; though, perhaps, I can find some among the things I put away before we sailed," and her eyes filled with tears.
Augusta took her hand, and they began to talk of that great bereavement, and of their own wonderful survival, till at last she led the conversation round to little Dick, and Bessie Holmhurst smiled again at the thought that her darling boy, her only child, was safe asleep upstairs, and not, as she had believed, washing to and fro at the bottom of the ocean. She took Augusta's hand and kissed it, and blessed her for having saved the child, till suddenly, somewhat to the relief