« PreviousContinue »
And so they went on, Stamford insisting on his assertion of Emily's heiress-ship, and Philip, who knew that, for the sake of the "fun" it afforded him, Jack Stamford habitually "crammed" his conversation to bursting-point, now persisted in disbelieving him, and finally got very angry at what he considered an impertinent jest on Emily's dependent position.
"Well, ask Helen, if you won't believe me," Jack exclaimed, as his sister at this moment appeared, coming from the garden; but Philip was too angry even to stop the demand for confirmation of his statement which Stamford now made.
Helen was puzzled.
"Is it possible you did not know?" she said, looking up at Philip. "Surely some one in the house must have mentioned it to you? Emily Hope is, undoubtedly, the richest heiress in the south country."
"There! and he is actually furious with me for speaking the t-t-truth!" Jack said, with the air of a martyr, and totally obliterating from his recollection that it was one of his usual "truths" which had misled Philip in the first instance.
Of the latter's amazement we need give you no description; and as he told Emily, after she had confirmed Helen's assertion, his first feeling was one of disappointment. He wanted to work for her, and now she did not need it; and then she had not undeceived him as to her position. But for this latter crime Emily had a plausible excuse. Did he not see that she wanted to be sure he really cared for herself? she had had so many, many warnings of the superior attractions her cassette possessed! And Miss Hope cast down her eyes, and sighed touchingly. So that at last Philip became reconciled to the idea of marrying an heiress after all, and with the consolation of knowing that he had believed it to be
All for love, and the world well lost.
Little remains to be told. Miss Hope's quondam guardians_remonstrated in vain: Miss Hope was of age. She married Philip Sutton a few months after, and the latter, we hear, has just given up his profession and gone into parliament, where he bids fair to become, in due time, a leading speaker, for he devotes to politics with great gusto and energetic endeavour those talents which had already marked him as a "rising barrister." Emily and he are very happy, and the fears she once communicated to Helen are entirely set at rest.
And poor Helen ?
You must know that George Marlowe came home safely after the Crimean campaign, during which he had rendered brave and signal service. It had cost him his left arm, and Mrs. Stamford thought this would of course prevent Helen still wishing for the marriage, but it seemed only to endear him the more to her, for, as she remarked simply, he would require her much more now. The report Philip had heard of her fortune was exaggerated, but still, with what George had, and his pay, they might have got on very well, and Mrs. Stamford began to endeavour to shake her husband's opposition. But one day, in crossing the park, Colonel Marlowe came face to face with his uncle. George bowed, Sir Stephen looked hard at him, turned very red in the face, and passed on.
The next morning his nephew received a note, saying,
"Dear George,-Come and dine with me to-morrow, at seven. "Yours, STEPHEN MARLOWE,"
as if nothing had happened. The honourable service, perhaps an inward acknowledgment that it had been manfully and rightly persevered in, and, above all, the empty coat-sleeve, had all told. George went, was received as if he had never been absent a day, and after dinner Sir Stephenrather awkwardly, though-drew his will from his pocket and deliberately threw it into the fire. The next day he wrote again to Mr. Stamford, and everything was once more rose colour.
Mrs. Marlowe had all the family diamonds presented to her by Sir Stephen on her marriage; but you will believe us when we tell you that these and all the diamonds of Golconda the jewel she prizes most is her husband's Victoria Cross.
THE DEATH OF THE TIGRESS.
FICTITIOUS tales of hunting adventures so often prove attractive to young aspirants to the honours of the chase, that the following truthful narrative, by an actor in the scene described, may not be unacceptable.
In the month of April, 1837, there being neither war nor mutiny to disturb the dull routine of military duty at that Potsdam of India, the station of Poonah, our worthy colonel, a somewhat strict and caustic Scot, announced to the officers of the "Primus in Indus" his intention to give a pic-nic at the hill fort of Porundhur, some eighteen miles distant from the station.
Great was the rejoicing, and many the preparations made to do justice to the good cheer which, at all events, was certain, as well as for the game of a large kind, which, though scanty, the sportsmen of the party knew were to be found around the base of the Porundhur hill, some two thousand feet above the plain, and in the deep and ominous-looking ravines that intersected it in all directions. Leaving, then, a crusty old captain and the orderly officer in charge of the regiment, behold us at five o'clock in the morning, whose cloudless sky even at that early hour betokened the coming heat, in our saddles, cantering along the road that led to our destination, and another hour and a half saw us dismounting from our smoking steeds in the lower fort of Porundhur, discussing the components of a capital breakfast provided by our commander.
Well, all pleasant things (and, happily, unpleasant) have an end in this sublunary sphere, and the meal over, and the guns overhauled, the pros
and cons of what was to be done came under discussion; some suggested trying the north side of the hill, some the south, but as no regular preparations had been made for beating for large game, and no beaters ready, whilst the latter were collecting below the hill, myself and some other subs walked round the lower fort to the opposite point to meet, or rather overlook, the beaters that were expected from that quarter. By the time, however, we had moved round, occasionally looking over the low parapet into the gloomy depths of the ravines below, the sun at that time of the year had assumed a scorching power even at the elevation we then stood, of some three thousand feet above the marine level, and held out but little temptation even to the keenest of us to descend the hill and enter on the ground, where, judging from the distant yells and cries, the beaters were fast approaching. The time for action, however, was nearer at hand than any of the party imagined which was to test our nerves and bring us into somewhat unpleasant proximity with the game, which, with the exception of Lieutenant F., none of us had ever seen killed, much less encountered on foot.
Immediately beneath where we stood in the lower fort commenced one of those ravines or deep fissures with which the mountain-side was furrowed. Boulders of rock, betwixt the openings of which sprang trees, cactus, and grass, served to conceal its shadowy depths, and to afford a safe retreat for the larger descriptions of game we hoped to find. At this juncture of our tale, when the cries of the beaters announced their approach below to the mouth of the ravine, and the hopes of the expectants above became fainter from the little space of ground that remained unbeaten, one of the nearest beaters shouted to Lieutenant F., who had clambered a little way down the hill-side, that he had seen something in the jungle for a moment like "a small cow of a yellow colour" making for the mouth of the ravine, and the next instant the officer addressed fired a shot at some object below, which was responded to by a roar that left little doubt of the nature of the game afoot. A call for volunteers from the party above was quickly followed by the addition of Lieutenant P. and W. to the storming party, consisting now of three tall active young men, fit for the ugly work before them.
No time was lost in moving for the mouth of the ravine below, which it was judged the animal must have made for; and knowing that it had been struck by the shot fired by Lieutenant F., the beaters were ordered to form in the rear of the officers, who began their ascent up the bottom of the ravine, and through a tangled mass of brushwood, trees, and rock, towards an abrupt cliff that appeared to terminate it. Here an opening in the cliff formed a cave of some ten feet wide and as many deep, at the further extremity of which appeared an ominous-looking circular hole about three feet in diameter-a snug retreat for the enemy we were in search of. The ground around was strewn with sand, and from the unmistakable footprints, of a cheese-plate size, surrounded by smaller ones of similar form, the startling fact announced itself that we stood within a few feet of a wounded tigress with cubs! Nothing animate, however, was visible, or audible, except the suppressed voices of the beaters outside the den.
We looked at one another in silent question as to what was next to be
done. To return to our party above empty-handed, after having run our game to earth, was not to be thought of. As a reconnoissance, F. now cautiously crawled with rifle cocked to the mouth of the hole and listened; but nothing was heard from the darkness, though from the recent footprints it was clear it had a resident, but how to draw her out was the difficulty; smoking at last was determined on, and a quantity of dry grass was heaped up at the mouth of the hole and set fire to. The blazing pile now lighted up the rocky ante-chamber in which the expectants sat, or rather kneeled, with their rifles cocked and presented in the direction from whence we expected her advent; not a sound was heard but our deep breathing and the crackling of the burning grass and sticks, the smoke from which rolled in volumes into the hole. Our nerves, strung to tension for several minutes, were on the point of relaxing, and the expiring flames of the grass as it shot forth its last flickering gleams revealed our compressed lips and somewhat pallid faces-paled, but not, I trust, from fear. A glance around the space we stood within-six feet from the mouth of the hole-at once assured us that our game could not escape, or rather, what more probably suggested itself at that anxious moment even to the boldest heart of the party, was, that the tigress could not possibly pass out without the loss of life to one or all of us! In other words, three armed men with the door behind them stood in a room with a wounded tigress!
The fire had now burnt low, and no longer obscured the aperture, and seeing nothing of the enemy, hopes gave way to fears that she had in some mysterious way eluded us, when, at that moment, a volume of smoke gently rolled back from the aperture, and hardly gave us time to exclaim, "Steady, here she comes!" ere the chest and head of a tigress slowly developed themselves. At first she stood within six feet of us, her eyes glaring, and her open mouth, from which the gouts of blood slowly trickled down, turned towards us; happily for us, she appeared momentarily blinded by the smoke. But little time was left for reflection; in an instant more and our rifles were discharged into the white field of her chest a roar and a spring, and the next moment she lay dead, touching our feet!
A long-drawn sigh of relief escaped us. The beaters were called up, and duly conveyed her defunct ladyship to our expectant friends above. And thus terminated, with the addition of one of her cubs we found on our return in the jungle below, and which was captured by a Coolie's blanket being thrown over it, a rather exciting day's sport for us poor officers of that not unknown regiment, "The Primus in Indus.”
BY HENRY SPICER, ESQ.
ON a July afternoon, in last year, three young men strolled into the large conservatory at one of the fêtes, or promenades, of the Botanical Society, Regent's Park. Their names were Sir Charles Blandford, Victor Grey, and Philip Trelawny.
"Enough of flowers," said Blandford, after a minute's lounge. "Who's for a weed?"
Smoking prohibited," said Trelawny, with a sigh.
"A fact," rejoined Blandford, coolly taking out his cigar-case," which meets with my entire concurrence, as lending a last finish to the flavour. Yonder's a bower, sacred to surreptitious puffing. Seek we its shade."
"Don't," said Trelawny. "It turns the balsams' stomachs. outside. My phaeton waits. Where's Grey ?"
Victor Grey stood, musing, a little apart.
"Half-past six," he murmured. "The fifth azalia from the corner. Just the time. What's an azalia ?"
LADY LESTER'S SMILE.
"Hi! Victor!" said Blandford.
"Don't mind me," he said. "I'm rather-eh-partial to thesehumphs. I'll follow."
"We give you a minute to survey the humphs."
"I shall be an hour. Go on. Take him, Trelawny, will you? I'm doing a bit of botany. Confound.them, won't they go?" muttered the botanist, impatiently.
"Nonsense, man," said Trelawny. "Come to Pratt's, like a Christian. You care nothing for flowers, and, as for me, I hate them, like
Anything, sir, that's most sinister and unsweet.
at Melton. A Hebrew creditor.
Lady Lester's smile."
"Her smile! eh, her smile! What of her smile?" inquired Victor, with sudden interest.
"What, indeed!" said Trelawny, very gravely.
Expound, old fellow. What the deuce do "Mean? Don't you know?"
A six weeks' frost
you mean ?"
"I have not the remotest conception."
"Then be innocent of the knowledge, dearest Vic; I, at all events, will not freeze your youthful veins with the recital of such horrors. Desire to know no more."
"I know nothing, yet," said Grey. "I am slightly acquainted with Lady Lester—a charming person, by-the-by, with a good deal of character, and a pretty
"Daughter. Precisely. Poor young thing! Odd that such a delicate flower should flourish beneath the baneful shadow of that upas !"
"Come, come, Blandford, joking apart, what is this about my lady's
"Joking!" said Blandford, with a melancholy expression that really