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when the young girl was after her like a whirlwind,

"Olive!" she cried, "Olive here, Aunt? Where
is she? When did she come? Why didn't you tell
me she was here? Where is she? I'll go tell her! "

And she made impetuously for the door. But Aunt
Caroline restrained her, putting on her most stern and
most commanding manner.

" No, no, child ; not just now," she Said. " Olive h
dressing, I think, and you know that she always hated
being disturbed whilst she was so engaged. And I
should hate her to see you in this state, too ; she looks
so lovely herself — and you, child, you look a perfect



savage."



" I have always maintained that she is a begad sav-
age," grunted Cousin Barnaby, who had no love for
little Boadicea.

The child hung her head now, looking very penitent.
Her sister Olive was the great love of her lonely life.
She had a passionate admiration for the dainty and
exquisite sister, who had gone out of her life, even at



A WILD FIGURE OF A GIRL ^y^

the time that she herself was emerging out of girl-
hood. Just for the moment she felt ashamed of her
torn clothes and ragged stockings, and would have
liked to hide herself somewhere, so that Olive should
not see her until she was more tidy.

" Wait a moment here," said Aunt Caroline, " and
I'll see where Olive is. If she is in her room dress-
ing, as I think she may be, you can slip quietly up-
stairs and smooth your hair and change your dress,
so that you may look your best when she first sees
you. Don't cry now, that's silly!" she added in a
very low whisper, as she saw that Boadicea was on the
verge of tears. " Lieutenant Carrington is looking at
you."

" Caroline," came in reproachful accents from
Cousin Barnaby, " are you forgetting that this is the
hour for my glass of bitters? I shall have no appe-
tite for supper if you neglect me like this. Not that
I ever complain; but really I don't see why the pres-
ence of a stranger should thus make you forget your
most elementary duties to me."'

" Oh, come along, then. Cousin Barnaby ! " said
Aunt Caroline with some impatience. " I had for-
gotten you, it's true; but Susan will have put the
bitters on the parlour table. Come along, then —
and you, child, wait just five minutes, and then make
no noise as you slip upstairs."

After which Aunt Caroline, with a final " I pray
you to excuse me, sir — I mean Jack/' went out of
th^ room, followed by Cousin Barnaby.



CHAPTER VII

A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH

'Aunt Caroline's high-pitched tones and Cousin
Barnaby's loud-voiced grumbhngs were heard dying
away across the oak-panelled hall and then in the small
parlour which lay on the left.

In the museum where a little while ago there had
been so much noise, so much bustle and also such loud
laughter, there now reigned absolute silence.

Uncle Jasper, quite happy that for the moment
neither his wife nor his Cousin Barnaby were likely
to disturb him, had incontinently clambered up hisi
favourite perch, and crossing one lean leg over the
other, he had propped up his book on his bent knee
and was once more absorbed in the wonders of
science.

Boadicea — when Aunt Caroline and Cousin Barn-
aby had gone — remained standing beside the door,
with her back to the rest of the room, which, you will
say, was not polite, seeing that Lieutenant Carring-
ton was there and he a guest in the house. But I
think that for the moment Boadicea had forgotten his
presence. She was thinking only of Olive and of the
joy that would come to her presently, when she could
embrace the dear beautiful sister, and hear from her
all about her triumphs in London society, and admire

78



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 79

all her lovely "dresses, and her jewels of which the wife
of Sir Baldwin Jeffreys had, of course, a good
number.

Boadicea was only thinking of Olive, and straining
her ears to hear Aunt Caroline's footsteps going up-
stairs, and the opening and closing of a door, which
would be the signal for her to make her escape, and to
creep to her room, there to wash her face and hands
and generally make herself look less like a savage,
and more pleasing to Olive.

" Can't I get you a chair ? "

Boadicea turned round very sharply : her mind was
so full of Olive that she was quite startled when she
found herself face to face with a young gentleman,
whom she hardly knew, and who was smiling at her
now in an amused kind of way which she did not like
at all. It was he who had offered to get her a chair,
and now he said quite kindly :

"You must be so tired after your prowess just
now, and I have an idea that you must have hurt
yourself when you fell down those stairs."

" I am not hurt," she said curtly.

" Perhaps only bruised," he went on, still smiling.
"By gad! I thought you'd have killed yourself when
you jumped from that elm on to a sloping roof.
Scrums, little one, it was a jump, eh? "

She looked straight at him then, for his tone did not
seem so sarcastic as before: and as she looked, she
encountered a pair of grey eyes which twinkled with
merriment, as well as with intense good-nature, and
also with boyish enthusiasm at the recollection of her
feat.



8o MEADOWSWEET



(f



I suppose I did give you a fright," she said.

He nodded in response : and suddenly for no reason
whatever, she felt her blood rushing up to her cheeks
causing them to glow with heat. She was very angry
with herself for this, and still more so for the feeling
of shyness which suddenly possessed her. However,
she was not going to let this young man see that she
was shy, nor think that her blushing cheeks had any-
thing to do with the twinkling look in his eyes.

" I saw you," she said as curtly as before, " from
the elm. I could see that you were scared."

" I would have climbed the elm after you," he re-
joined, " but you were as agile as a cat, and I feared
that I would do more harm than good."

He talked to her lightly and gaily as one does to a
child, and his grey eyes travelled from time to time
over her torn frock and her dusty hands, and after
they had done so they again rested on her face, and
she then felt that the blush in her cheeks deepened
because the twinkle in his eyes became more pro-
nounced.

" I suppose that you think me a savage, too," she
said defiantly.

** I think that you are a very foolhardy and very
naughty child," he replied, and just for a moment
merriment died out of his face, and it looked earnest,
whilst his voice sounded quite stern,

" I am not a child," she retorted.

"What else?"

" Miss Aldmarshe," said she, trying to look very
dignified.

But at this earnestness fled quickly from his face,



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 8i

and back came the merry smile round the clean-shaved
lips, and that amused twinkle in the grey eyes.

" I beg your pardon," he said politely.

" Or Miss Boadicea," she conceded.

*' Queen of ancient Britain! "

And he made her a deep bow, in the old-fashioned
style, putting out his hand that she might rest hers
upon it. She was about to do so, when looking down
upon her hand — already extended toward him — she
saw that it was very dirty, and covered with the con-
tents of an owl's egg.

"Wants washing — ^eh, your majesty?" he re-
marked with that irritating pleasing humour of his,
when he saw her look of dismay, and the quick with-
drawal of the grimy little hand.

This time she felt an angry flush rising to the very
roots of her hair.

" Well ! " she said sullenly, " I suppose that a sav-
age — even a Queen — would have sticky hands some-
times."

" Undoubtedly," he replied.

" I dare say," she continued with what she felt and
meant to be biting sarcasm, " I dare say that the
young ladies whom you know in London have beauti-
ful white hands."

" Well, usually! " he admitted.

" And you like to take their hands — their beautiful
white hands," she said, whilst in spite of herself her
voice shook, and there was a silly, uncomfortable little
lump in her throat, she would have given worlds to be
able to swallow, " and would be ashamed to take the
hand of a — of a savage ! "



B2 MEADOWSWEET

" By gad ! " he exclaimed, " but you are a funny
child — I! ashamed to take your little sticky hands?
— not I — give me both of them — there — at once."

And he held out his hands, and looked on her with
great kindliness : he was very fond of children and of
young animals, and this quaint girl seemed a happy
blend of both : and just now her obvious timidity, that
first beginning of self-consciousness which only comes
when the child has become a woman, rendered her ex-
cessively winning and charrning to look at.

Having imprisoned both her small, sticky hands in
his own strong ones, he drew her to him with a quick,
masterful gesture, and in a jovial, brotherly way kissed
her heartily on both cheeks.

To his astonishment, she became as red as a poppy
and then equally suddenly all the blood seemed to
leave her cheeks, and she looked frail and pale: and
then heavy tears gathered in her eyes.

" How dare you? " she said almost viciously, whilst
with all her might she tried to free her hands from his
grasp. " How dare you ? "

" I don't know how I dare," he rejoined gaily
laughing, much amused at her indignation and at her
futile efforts to rid herself of him, " but so bold am I
that I'll dare again."

And again he kissed her, despite her struggles : but
now her head was bent because of the effort which she
made, and thinking to kiss her cheeks his lips en-
countered her soft, round neck.

*' How dare you? " she cried again and again, "let
me go ! let me go ! — I hate you ! "

But men are such curious beings. In the best of



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 83

them there Is always something of the tyrant, and 3.
great deal of the Turkish pasha. Lieutenant Car-
rington had no compunction whatever in thus teasing
this child. She was only a child, and a tomboy, too,
whom he had seen climbing trees and sloping roofs
just like a cat, and he liked to hold her now, while she
struggled, just in the same way as he would imprison
a kitten that pleased him, and wanted to get away
from him.

The more she struggled, the more gaily did he
laugh, the more she showered her hatred on him, the
more determined was he to snatch yet another kiss —
to punish her because she was so silly and shy, and
would not receive his brotherly kiss in the spirit in
which he meant her to receive it.

And whilst they were struggling like this, he laugh-
ing, she almost in tears, the door flew open and beauti-
ful Olive Jeffreys entered the room.

For a moment she stood quite still, and I assure you
that just then her expression of face was anything but
pleasant. There was a deep furrow between her
brows, and as was habitual with her when she was
vexed, she was worrying her under lip with her teeth.

But her general appearance was very beautiful, for
she had exchanged her emerald silk gown for one en-
tirely composed of shot silk in colour like an iridescent
pearl, neither mauve nor rose, nor grey, but partaking
of all these delicate tints, and with a satin stripe of
pale golden yellow running down the delicate fabric,
and tiny bunches of pink rosebuds with their leaves
scattered here and there.

Filmy lace veiled the edge of the bodfce and blended



84 MEADOWSWEET

in exquisite harmony with the tender flesh tones of her
bosom. Round her neck she wore three rows of per-
fectly matched pearls, and in her ears she had long
earrings of beautiful gold work set with pearls.

So charming an apparition was she that in a mo-
ment both Miss Aldmarshe and Lieutenant Carring-
ton mutely and tacitly called a cessation of hostilities.'
He dropped her wrists, and she gave a quick exclama-
tion of delight.

[But already Lady Jeffreys's high-pitched voice had
resounded across the museum.

" Fie, Lieutenant Jack," she said reprovingly, " I
pray you leave the child alone! See! she looks of-
fended like a bedraggled chicken. And you will be
disturbing the entire household by making her howl."

She advanced into the room with her pretty, minc-
ing step, toying with her lace fan as she walked, and
anon she stood before the two young people who I
must say were looking somewhat shamefaced.

Boadicea, still as red as a poppy, hung her head
down heartily ashamed thus to appear after all before
the beautiful sister, having wholly forgotten Aunt
Caroline's stern admonition.

Olive gave the glowing cheeks a kindly, patronising
tap with her fan.

" There, there, child," she said with a light laugh,
" do not look so scared. Lieutenant Carrington was
only trying to frighten you — he really does not care
to kiss little girls — or even to look at them — eh,
Jack?"

And she turned fully towards Lieutenant Carring-
ton, standing — quite accidentally I have no doubt — •



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 85

quite dose to her sister, her daintily bedecked person
in charming contrast to Boadicea's tattered appear-
ance, her beringed and well-trimmed hands looking
almost fairylike beside the grimy, sun-tanned ones of
the younger girl.

No doubt Lieutenant Carrington realised the, enor-
mity of his offence, the sin which his eyes had com-
mitted by resting if only in brotherly kindness and
gentle irony on any woman, save the most beautiful
amongst all. The tone of familiarity with which
Lady Jeffreys addressed him, showed that she was
well-acquainted with him, and now he turned quite
away from Boadicea and bowed with consummate gal-
lantry to the beautiful lady, just as he would to the
Queen, if she happened to be present.

She gave him the tips of her fingers to kiss, and this
he did, having previously said most politely :

" When the sun appears, all lesser stars must neces-
sarily pale."

Certainly the lesser star — if by that appellation he
meant Boadicea — had paled very considerably. The
child now looked white and sullen, and her eyes
watched every elegant movement of Lieutenant Car-
rington, and every expression of his face with a glow-
ering, wrathful look. How differently did he behave
when Olive was present, how courteous was his man-
ner, how delicate his speech ! He seemed quite a dif-
ferent man to the easy-mannered, boyish fellow -of a
while ago, with his laughing eyes and sarcastic lips.

" There, little one," said Olive, whose melting
glance had duly rewarded Lieutenant Carrington for
his gallantry, " what did I tell you. He was only^



86 MEADOWSWEET

teasing you — as he would have teased a kitten —
without any ill-intention. Come ! " she added, seeing
that Boadicea still hung her head, " let me see you
smile. Have you forgotten, child, that twelve months
have gone by since last you saw me in London ? Are
you then not pleased to see me? "

But at this appeal Boadicea's sulkiness vanished, she
threw her arms with loving impetuosity round the
dainty fonn of her fair sister.

" Pleased ? " she exclaimed, " Pleased ? Why,
Olive, I have been nearly crazy with joy, since I heard
that ygu were here."

Her cheeks were once more aflame, for with this
child who had never been taught to restrain the dis-
play of her feelings, the blood came and went in her
cheeks, just as emotion carried her away or left her
cold. Olive had great difficulty in extricating herself
from the violent embrace and in rescuing her delicate
coloured gown from the affectionate pattings of eager,
grimy hands.

" Child ! child ! " she cried somewhat crossly, for
she hated the harmony of her attire to be disarranged,
" not so fast, and not so furiously. I am convinced
of the depth of your affection, but that is no reason
why you should crush my gown. It cost me over
thirty guineas last week, and now your dirty hands
will ruin it in a trice."

In a moment Boadicea's enthusiasm cooled down.
Her arms dropped away from her sister's shoulders,
and she looked down ruefully at her grimy hands.

" I am so sorry, Olive," she murmured.

" There! " said Olive impatiently, " do go and clean



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 87

yourself, child. You look like a little savage still,
despite your growing years, and I must say that you
still seem to behave like one. Does she not, Captain
Jack?"

" No, no," he said in an absent, bored kind of way,
as if the subject had no interest for him. " Miss —
er — Miss Boadicea Aldmarshe was seriously trying
just now to behave like a young lady."

" Behave like a young lady," retorted the young-
girl, with a wealth of scorn expressed in the quiet
tremor of her voice, "Behave like a young lady?
Not I ! I hate your simpering, affected, odious young
ladies with white hands and chicken livers. I can
ride an unbroken colt — -can they?" she continued,
gradually working herself up to a passion of con-
tempt and of wrath, her voice quivering, sobs gather-
ing in her throat and tears in her eyes. " I can sit on
a bucker, saddleless and bridleless, and not lose my
seat — ■ can they ? I can handle a gun, and a spade
and a rake, I can run a mile without losing my breath
■ — can they? can they? I ask you! Can they rise
with the lark, and plunge into the sea and swim half
way to France? I can. But no doubt you admire
their silly, mincing ways, their ' Oh's ' and their
*Ah's' and their 'Fies'sM Well, I do notl I do
not! I do not! I would not be like them. No!
not for all the gowns that cost thirty guineas and for
all the soft speeches and hand-kissings the popinjays
of Pall Mall can give them! "

Her voice now was almost choked with tears of rage
and shame that had gathered to her eyes. Lieutenant
Carrington stood quite speechless! never had he



88 MEADOWSWEET

heard such a torrent of passionate wrath flowing from
a woman's lips. Olive, too, while the child spoke was
silent with amazement. And now when Boadicea
paused either from want of breath or because her
emotion was really choking her, all that Lady Jef-
freys could say was a mild admonitory,

"Child! child!"

In a moment Boadicea's arms were round her sis-
ter's neck.

"Forgive me, Olive," she pleaded through her
tears, "Olive, dear, darling, my beautiful Olive? you
iare different to anybody else, quite different, and I
love you ! I love you ! I love you I "

Then she kissed Olive passionately, and the next
second had run quickly to the door. Here, however,
she turned, just as her hand was on the latch, and
faced Lieutenant Carrington, who was still standing
amazed, and supremely uncomfortable as many men
appear when women are in tears.

She looked him straight in the face, her eyes
glowing, her cheeks aflame, her lips red and moist: a
most veritable little fury of wrath,

" But I hate him! " she said.

Then she opened the door, and flounced out of the
room, banging the door to behind her, so that Uncle
Jasper started from his absorption and looked down
in alarm from his perch.

" Lord bless my soul, what was that ? " he queried
vaguely.

. " Nothing, Uncle, nothing," replied Olive, " a little
childish tantrum, that is all. Lieutenant Jack," she
added, once more turning to the young man a serene



A LITTLE FURY OF WRATH 89

and smiling face, "won't you sit awhile? We can
have a pleasant talk before supper, and Uncle Jasper
need not disturb us."

And as a matter of fact Uncle Jasper, after the
momentary interruption, had once more busied him-
self in his book, and was taking no notice of anything
that might be going on.



CHAPTER VIII

A SOCIETY LADY

" There," said Lady Jeffreys, as she disposed her
graceful person to its best advantage upon the sofa,
and gave the cushions an inviting Httle pat, " come
and sit beside me, Jack. You fooHsh boy," she added,
seeing a quick bkish mount to his cheeks, " it is
quite proper. We are both guests in my aunt's
house, and there's dear Uncle Jasper playing goose-
berry."

She frowned a little as she spoke, for Lieutenant
Carrington did not appear to be so eager to sit beside
her as she w^ould have w^ished, not even though she
cocked her head on one side, like a pretty bird, and
beamed an invitation at him through her shining blue
eyes.

It would have been very Ill-manilered not to re-
spond. Lieutenant Carrington, trained in the best
school of good breeding, could not at this juncture do
less than bow gallantly and take his seat beside the
fair temptress on the sofa. But he was obviously ill
at ease, as young men are apt to be when a beautiful
woman is kind and has a desire to be entertained.

Lieutenant Carrington was racking his brain to find
an opening for polite conversation.

" Your sister is a curious child," he said at last,
thinking to; find si, topic of unusual interest.

90



A SOCIETY LADY 91

"Oh!" said Olive with a pout that became her
pretty mouth remarkably well, " she is only the un-
civilised product of barbaric surroundings. What can
you expect from education that has been confined
within the boundaries of Thanet?"

Then, as he made no comment, she said archly :

" Jack ! you have forgotten to say that you are
pleased to see me."

" Does so obvious a fact need stating? " he asked
gallantly.

She gave him her hand, murmuring, " Flatterer ! "
and rewarded him for his gallant speech by a look
through the veil of her eyelashes; a look which her
admirers had oft told her was irresistible.

But Lieutenant Carrington having kissed the hand
and withstood the look, appeared quite calm when he
said:

" You have not yet told me what brings the beau-
tiful Lady Jeffreys out of London in the height of
the season."

" Did you wish to know ? " she asked.

"Of course," replied he.

" Why," said she, " it was in order to see you.
Jack."

" Your ladyship is pleased to jest."

"Do you doubt it then?"

"Oh!" he said, with a slight shrug of his broad
shoulders.

A look of tenderness crept into her eyes.

" You know that I am in earnest. Jack."

" I entreat you, Lady Jeffreys," he pleaded, point-
ing to Uncle Jasper.



92 MEADOWSWEET

But she shrugged her shoulders and laughed.

" Oh ! " said she, " he heeds nothing but his Latin
and his beetles. Why have you become so cautious,
Jack?" she added more seriously, "Why did you
leave London so suddenly?"

" I had to rejoin my ship. ... I — "

" Your leave does not expire for another month —>
your own sister told me this in London. Why won't
you speak the truth ? "

" I have told you the truth, Lady Jeffreys," he said,
" before I left town."

" I thought that you cared for me. Jack," she
sighed.

Now we all know that to play the part of a Joseph
in commonplace, every day life, is not a pleasing task
for any young man ; and when the lady is very beau-
tiful and very young and the man is chivalrous, it
becomes indeed a very invidious one. Lieutenant
Carrington would at this moment I believe have given
up half his fortune to be safely back in his bunk on
board the Dolphin. The harmless ballroom flirtation
into which he had drifted quite unconsciously in Lon-
don was threatening to assume proportions of which
he had never dreamed and which almost frightened
him. It is a fact that some of the bravest men have
been cowards where women are concerned.

Lieutenant Carrington had distinguished himself by
conspicuous bravery in the China seas, and yet now he
felt an insane desire to take to his heels, and to run
away as hard as he could go. For a moment the wild
thought came into his brain to shout at the top of his
yoice and thus attract Uncle Jasper's attention, who



'A SOCIETY LADY 93

indeed was a most inefficient gooseberry, but I think
you will agree that this would have been most unchiv-
alrous behaviour, altogether unfitting a sailor and a
gentleman.

So when Lady Jeffreys said languishingly, " I
thought that you cared for me, Jack," all that he could
think of to say in reply was :

" It is because I feared that I might soon do so,
Lady Jeffreys, that I came away."

** To run away — like a coward ! " she pleaded,
" It does not seem like you."

" There are certain dangers which it were cowardly
to court," he protested,

" Love is not a danger," she urged, " love is happi-



ness,"



Poor Jack Carrington felt that the air was getting
sultry. He would now have given his very next
chance of promotion for the chance of running away,
and quite a good deal for permission to open the win-
dow. Never had he felt so completely at a disad-
vantage. Perspiration was running down his back,
and his hair felt as if it had been fastened with gum
arable to his temples.

But Olive appeared quite cool; her skin was like
ivory, and her cheeks had only a sufficiency of colour
in them to make her eyes seem brighter by contrast,
and her lips more red.


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