Patrick MacGill.

Flirts and flirts : or a season at Ryde; in three volumes (Volume 1) online

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the Count pressed it slightly, and Kathleen
said nothing, only blushed crimson, show-
ing she noticed it. Then they went in to
Lady Killowen, and she begged the Count
to stay dinner. It would have been too
much contrary to her notions of hospitality
not to do so, but she was not very gracious
about it. However the Count stayed, and
exerted himself much to be agreeable, at
first finding it rather difficult, for Lady
Killowen was in one of her grumpy moods,
and ready to snub every one on every
possible subject. It had not been pleasant
to her to be so cold and unsympathising to
poor Sandy that afternoon, who after all

236 Flirts and Flirts,

was her favourite nepliew, and she herself
had not been at all over pleased with the
Flora expedition, to which that bearish
Mr. Simpson, as she secretly considered
him, had not even had the grace to invite
her, and her ever readyjealousy hadbeena
good deal excited, as it always was, by any
fresh proof of how very much Sandy cared
for Kathleen, and how little for herself
in comparison, so she was not exactly
in the mood to have another man talk,
brilliant man-of-the-world talk to herself,
all the while casting looks of deep devotion
before her daughter's bright young face.

Lady Killowen had been a beauty too,
much more beautiful, as she always thought
than Kathleeu was, and it irritated her no
longer to get any looks of devotion for her
own share, and so this evening it was almost
a consolation to her to think that this
man did not care for her daughter. " She
is a goose to think he does," thought Lady
Killowen, and was so far pleased by the
idea, that though she had no one else to

Flirts and Flirts. 237

anmse her after dinner, she left the Count
and Kathleen alone together to flirt to
their hearts content, not even summoning
them in from the verandah for coffee, when
it came, late as usual, but letting it be taken
out to them in the cool star-light. It was
Kathleen who talked this evening, the
Count listened and glanced expressive
glances, visible even in the star-light, and
when he took his leave at last with a final
meaning glance, and a final still more
meaning pressure of the hand, Kathleen
felt almost as if her dreams had come true,
and they had plighted their troth, and
henceforward belonged to each other,
and she sat quite still looking at the stars,
afraid to break through her dream by

" Come in, Kathleen," said her mother
sharply, " don't sit out there any more
thinking of the Count. You've been
long enough talking to him in the damp,
I'm sure. You need not sit there any
longer, thinking of him like a love sick

238 Flirts and Flirts.

girl. He does not care for you, or wHy
did he not go out yacliting ? Depend upon
it, he has been making love to that Mrs.
Courteney all day. Well I hope you made
a pleasant variety. Did Mr. Simpson lay
his £40,000 a year at your feet, my dear ?
or are you only to share the Flora with
him like that other girl Sandy is mad

'' Has Sandy been here to-day ?" asked
Kathleen quietly.

''Yes, he has been here," said Lady

" And — did he like my going out in the
Flora?" asked Kathleen nervously after a
pause, during which she had waited to see
if her mother would tell her what he had
said of her own accord.

"Why, of course, he took for granted
you meant to marry Mr. Simpson, as I
suppose every one else will, I am quite
looking forward to the congratulations to-
morrow. But Sandy was not very likely
to like the notion. I don't think he means

Flirts and Flirts. 239

to congratulate you, my dear," said
Lady Killowen all in the same dry dis-
agreeable tone.

^' Sandy ouglit to know better than to
think such things of me," said Kath-
leen with the tears starting from her

" Well, my dear, I don't know how he
is to know any better. The Count won't
have you, and Mr. Simpson is the best
l)arti, and of course you must take up
with somebody, after going on with the
Count, as you do."

" Mother !" began Kathleen, but her
indignation overpowered her, and breaking
off here, she rushed out of the room, and
Lady Killowen quite satisfied now that she
had vented her ill humour on some body,
put her work carefully away, and went to
bed also in the sweetest temper in the



Mrs. Courteney sat alone in lier South-
sea lodgings ; slie liad quarrelled witli her
husband. It had come to that at last;
they had often quarrelled before, such
quarrels as people have and make up, or
don't make np, going on just the same
after as before ; but this time it had been
no such quarrel. Captain Courteney had
desired her to promise that she would have
no further intercourse with either Count
Manfredi or Major O'Connor ; his wife had
refused to give such promise, and had tried
to show him his absurdity in being jealous
of two men at once. But Captain Courte-

Flirts and Flirts, 241

ney, it seemed, cliose to be absurd, he
still demanded tlie promise, at last he went
out, leaving lier, as tie said, to think it
over. Then the Count had come to the
house, and had spent some hours in Mrs.
Courteney's company; whilst he was there
Captain Courteney had returned — there
had been no scene — he had simply made
the Count Manfredi aware that his presence
in his house was distasteful to him, and
the Count, being a gentleman, had no choice
left but to withdraw.

After he had gone. Captain Courteney
turned to his wife : " This house no longer
holds us both," he said. "But I will not
turn you adrift, you can remain here till
you have settled on some plan for yourself.
I will go out and see about house room for
myself for the night, and then we shall part
— for ever." There was something very
tragic in the poor Captain's tone, but what-
ever effect he might have produced by his
manner, was spoilt by his adding in his usual


242 Flirts and Flirts.

nervous anxious tone : '' You have nothing
to say to that, have you?"

'' Nothing," said Mrs. Courteney,
quickly, then her husband went out,
and she was left alone to think over all
that had passed. Her position seemed
very strange to herself, when she came to
think it over. What had made her weak
foolish husband all of a sudden assume
that grand seigneur manner with her,
leaving her without a word to say for her-
self ? Was it that she was guilty ? but in
what was she guilty ? because she did not
love her husband? But that was a fault
of such old standing, it did not seem to
her, then thinking it over to herself, that
she ever had loved him. It could not be
that then that made her so incapable of
answering him. Was it then that she
loved the Count? but she did not love
him, could not bring herself to do so, and
she moaned as she thought this to herself,
for she believed that the Count loved her,
and wished her to go away with him, and

Flirts and Flirts. 243

he liad gained a strange influence over
her, and she beheved she should go with
him, when he asked her, and so if she
only loved him, she thought she might yet
be happy ; but she did not love him. Her
husband suspected her of doing so, but
by doing so, he only showed his own
stupidity. He always had been so very

Then her thoughts went to the man
whom she did love. Would he help her
now ? she doubted it. It was some days
now since he had been to see her; the
last time they had met had been at the
Regatta Ball, when Major O'Connor had
been by way of drawing back ; she did not
think he would be likely to come forward
now. Yet, if he knew how much she loved
him ; it surely was worth while to make
the attempt. Suppose he were not in-
clined to help her, what then ? she had no
pride, that she risked the hurting of, this
poor beauty ; she had been admired, few
people more so ; but she did not recollect

244 Flirts and Flirts.

the day wlien she had been rejected, and
all feelings of pride had been put away
from her long ago. That could not be
reckoned among her faults. So though
she had little hope from the attempt she
was about to make, she went to her writ-
ing table, and wrote :

" Edward,
*' You have often asked me to call you
so, and I would not. But now there is
no longer any reason why I should not do
so. I have quarrelled with my husband.
It is all over with me. I have not a friend
to turn to. It is long since I have seen
you, have you too quarrelled with me ? if
not, come to my assistance now, and when
all the world has forsaken me, do not you

" Yours,

" Ada."

Having written this note she sealed it and
directed it, then slowly and despondently

Flirts and Flirts. 245

slie dried lier pen, and as she did so lier
mind went back to a time long ago, a little
Devonshire lane with tall o'er arching trees
and high banks on either side, such as
Devonshire lanes are wont to have, and a
gay picnic party wandering through the
lane. And as it turned about, and they were
hidden from the others, she and one other,
an arm had wound round her waist, and
hot kisses had been pressed upon her lips,
and the Hon. Alick De Yere had sworn to
love her and be true to her against all op-

He was handsome and a ** plunger,"
which sounded grand to her, who had lite-
rally grown up in infantry barracks, and
she was only sixteen then, and the whole
thing had been very new to her, and she
could not understand it at all, when a month
or two after she heard of his marriage to
his rich cousin, whom, it then appeared
he had been engaged to all the time. She
had not met him since, but when she mar-
ried Captain Courteney, among her other

246 Flirts and Flirts.

presents there had come this pen gold set
with turquoises, the gift of the Hon. Alick
De Yere. He had written a little note at
the same time, begging her not to take the
trouble to acknowledge so trifling a pre-
sent, and Ada Courteney had understood
better than the Ada Jerninghame of sixteen
had done, and slie had sent no thanks for
his present — but begging her also believe,
that, were she ever in any need or difficulty
she would find no truer friend than Alick
De Vere ; though he added, " it may sound
a strange time to choose for saying so,
when you are just taking to yourself a friend
and protector for life, yet my experience
of life, which is greater than yours, leads
rne not to think it such an inappropriate
time as it may at first sight appear," and
though she was barely a bride when she got
that note, Ada Courteney perfectly under-
stood him, and now as she sat looking at his
gift, and thinking of that old time in the
Devonshire lane, the recollection of his
note came back to her, but she laughed

Flirts and Flirts. 247

to herself as the idea of appealing to Alick
De Yere presented itself to her, and she re-
membered the tall proud, red-haired, Mrs.
De Yere, whom she had once come across
in a railway journey, and then, tliougli with
but faint hopes, even if she bad any at all,
she despatched her note to Major O'Connor,
That gallant Irishman was very mucb at
a loss when he received it ; but the pa-
thetic little note touched his heart, and
following his first impulse, he bravely hur-
ried to the rescue of the unhappy beauty,
who threw herself upon his mercy, and
quickly presented himself in the small sit-
ting-room of those Southsea lodgings. But
the hot-hearted Captain found himself in a
position as embarrassing as flattering,
when the beautiful Ada threw herself into
his arms, sobbing out how he was the only
man she had ever loved, and though he had
cast her from him, it was to him alone she
could appeal for protection, when the man,
whom she had chosen for her protector
for Hfe, wished also to put her from him.

248 Flirts and Flirts,

Professional lady-killer thougli this red-
haired Irishman was, there was still a soft
side to his heart, and he felt that he had
done Ada Jerninghame a great wrong, and
wished he could repair it to Ada Courteney.
But at the same time he was not more
ready now than then to sacrifice himself,
and all his possible chances of a wife with
gold more solid than that which might
chance to shine in her smiles, or her hair,
nor did he see how any sacrifice of himself
could now benefit Ada Courteney, as it
once might have benefited Ada Jerning-

" Faith, then, is it of me your husband
is jealous ?" said he, becoming more Irish
than usual in his confusion of mind, and
giving no answer to her loving protesta-

" Of you and of the Count Manfredi,"
sobbed Ada, relinquishing the shelter she
had sought upon his shoulder, and now
sinking into her accustomed seat upon the

Flirts and Flirts. 249

" But lie can't be jealous of two men
at once. Charlie's soft, I know, but he
would not be so soft as all that."

" He is though," said Ada, between her
sobs. " He said he would have nothing
more to do with me, unless I promised
never to see you — or — or the Count again
— and I would not — and now he has gone
to look for lodgings for himself, because
he would not turn me out of these all at
once," and Mrs. Courteney looked round
at the shabby little room with proud,
though tearful eyes, for she felt that her
husband Liad been tenderer of her than
she deserved, even at the last.

" Well, but, me dear Ada, would it not
be better if you had promised," and Major
O'Connor sat down on the sofa beside her,
and passed an arm round her waist that
the lovingness of the action might make
up for the seeming want of love in the

Then Ada Courteney dried her eyes,
and looked straight in front of her with

250 Flirts and Flirts,

that hard scornful expression, which had
become so habitual to her, but for all that
she did not seek to put his arm away from
her. She loved this man, she did not love
anyone else in the world, and she had done
with being respected ; all wish for that
she had crushed out of her heart, and so
she sat quite still with Major O'Connor's
arm round her waist, and said : '* Perhaps
it would have been better."

" And then," said the Major, in soft
cajoling tones, ''it's very likely in a little
while the poor fellow might have forgotten
about it, and we might have met some-
times, now " and here he stopped.

He was a very rash man, but he did not
mean to ask Ada to make her home with
him, and he did not want to hurt her feel-
ings unnecessarily, so he . thought it best
to let her imagine the rest of his sen-
tence. " And you don't care, do you, me
darling, if you never see that Count
Manfredi again," said he after a short

e Flirts and Flirts 251

'' I care about notliing," said Mrs.

" Ah, dear, but that is a very bad way
to be in. Ob, if it was not for the filthy
lucre how happy we might yet be, Ada
darling !" Then the Major kissed her,
and Ada Courteney submitted to the
caress, just as she had submitted before,
when he had passed his arm round her
waist. " But you know I am a poor
beggar," proceeded the Major, " and I am
not the man to bring my darling into

Then for the first time she moved
hastily, as if about to speak, but in a
moment she resumed her former stony
expression, and sat again looking straight
before her, and the Major proceeded.
'' You see, it is sad it makes me that you
should not go on living with Charlie. He
can give you a more comfortable home
than I could. If he would have it so, you
would stay with him, would not you — for
my sake, Ada darling ?" and again he

252 Flirts and Flirts.

kissed ber, and her foreliead felt very cold,
as he touched it with his lips.

" For your sake I would do anything,"
said she, in low hoarse tones, " but never

to see you again " and there she broke


" But it would not be for ever — trust
me, in a short time it will be all right again
soon. There now, my darling, do you
run upstairs, and bathe your lovely eyes,
and leave me here. I'll put it all right
with Charlie, when he comes in. You
must come down soon, you know, as you
have all the influence with him yet, but
don't let him find us together, that would
never do."

Then the poor misguided woman let her
head droop once more upon his shoulder,
and sobbed, as if her heart would break ;
but after a moment or two she regained
the mastery over herself, and gathering
herself up, she hurried from the room.

Very dispirited and very sad at heart
was Charlie Courteney when he wended

Flirts and Flirts. ' 253

his way back to Ms dingy lodgings ; the
time, he had so dreaded, had come at last,
and he was to be separated from his wife,
and he felt as if it was through his own
fault. Why all on a sudden had he been
so peremptory with her ? was it not better
that she should have visits every day, and
all day long, from whomsoever she liked,
than that he should be separated from her,
never to see her again ? He was in the
mood almost to fall at her feet, and entreat
her forgiveness; nevertheless his spirit
was again roused within him, when on
entering his house he found Major O'Con-
nor already installed in the sitting-room.

This dangerous man among the ladies
was also very popular among his brother
officers ; his hearty genial manner stood
him in good stead with both alike, and
now he promptly set to work with it to
show poor Charlie Courteney the absurdity
of his suspicions, telling him how Mrs.
Courteney, finding her husband too angry
to listen to her, had sent for him for that

254 FlMs and Flirts.

purpose, and how lie bad been waiting to
do so. He did not say anything of his
little tete-a-tete with Mrs. Courteney, and
Charlie was too confused, too madly
anxious to believe Ada innocent to make
any close enquiries, and so Major O'Connor
had it all his own way, and victoriously
demonstrated how absurd it was for a man
to be jealous of his wife's affection for two
men at once.

llien Ada came down, and quite coldly
and calmly gave the required promise, that
neither Major O'Connor nor Count Man-
fredi should ever be admitted to see her

Captain Courteney, in his relief at
thinking that after all, he was not to be
finally separated from his wife, had almost
forgotten all about tlie promise he had
asked for ; but the other two did not per-
ceive this, and Ada was ready to promise
anything now, and Major O'Connor was
almost anxious that there should be no
more such trying interviews for him, for

Flirts and Flirts. 255

he had had rather a " mauvais quart
d'heure ;'' only if there were to be no more
such for him, he was not at all willing
that there should be any such either
sweet or disagreeable for the Count Man-

Then, at last, he and Ada shook hands,
under her husband's very eyes, taking a
final farewell of each other, and Captain
Courteney walked downstairs with Major
O'Connor, and even so far as into the road
with him, and then they also shook hands,
but theirs was no final farewell ; they,
who never cared to see each other, often
met again, for their paths in life lay to-
gether. The Irishman shook hands with
much dignity, rather as if he were mag-
nanimously forgiving the other his unjust
suspicions of him, and Captain Courteney

said feeblv :


" I know you must think me a fool,
O'Connor, a poor jealous fool, but when
a fellow has the fortune to have a beauty
for his wife, he has a deal to go through

256 Flirts and Flirts.

with, men, wlio are not married, like you,
have no idea of. Thank you very much
for all you have done for me to-day. I
could not have borne it to have been
separated from my wife, I should have
blown my brains out."

Then he went back to his wife, and
Major O'Connor went home to his quarters,
feeling as if he had done a good deed, and
as if Ada Courteney could no longer re-
proach him with the evil turn he had done
her once long ago in the old days, and he
did not reproach himself with having
played a traitor's part to that poor weak
fool, Charlie Courteney, but accepted his
thanks quietly, glowing with a sort of
pride the while, as he thought of all the
proofs of love the other's beautiful wife
had showered upon him that afternoon.

But now it was all over, all that en-
tanglement, and he must let no more grass
grow under his feet, before finding out
the heiress upon whom it would best suit
him to expend his arts of fascination.

Flirts and FUrts. 257

Thus did it come to pass, that when
Count Manfredi next went over to
Southsea, he found Captain Courteney's
door shut against him, and understood
that henceforward it would always be so,
and that he must now seek some other
less direct means of intercourse with the
beautiful Ada. Fhhien! he was in no
hurry, not having quite matured his other
little schemes as yet, and he considered
this shuttino" out of himself as rather a
favourable sign than otherwise. Captain
Courteney must have become rather des-
perate in his jealousy to resort to such
a measure, and from that he argued there
was the more likelihood of Mrs. Court-
eney's soon becoming desperate also.

He did not know all that had passed
within those shabby lodgings, or he would
have felt more certain yet of it, though
perhaps it Avould have made him care less
about the fulfilment of his plans. For
Count Manfredi did not only wish to carry
off Ada Courteney to his Italian palace, he

VOL. I. s

258 Flirts and Flirts.

wished also to win that love from her,
which another had won from that Rosa
of his early days, of whom she so much
reminded him, and had he known all about
that interview between Major O'Connor
and Ada Courteney, he would have des-
paired of ever winning love from her, such
love as Rosa had given to Charlie Beau-
mont, for all love of that kind Ada had
already given away.



" Here is an invitation for you, Sandy,"
said Kathleen, '' to Lady Long's ball.
She sent it here, and as we have been ex-
pecting you every day, we never sent it
to Portsmouth."

"Oh, thanks. What night is it?
Thursday ! I hope I shall be able to get
leave, Friday would have suited me best,
though. Well, how have you been
amusing yourself, since I saw you last?
Not pining for me, that is easy to

" Oh, it has been awfully slow — nothing
going on, and such a mob on the pier,
there has been no going there at all."

s 2

260 Flirts mid Flirts.

" Have you been yachting then ?"

"i^o, not since that wretched day in
the Flora. I never was so miserable in
my life."

" Qu'alliez vous faire in that galere
then ? What is it the French say ?"

'' Oh, never mind what the French say,
Sandy, I want you to help me."

" With all the pleasure in life," he ex-
claimed with a wonderful access of

'' But you must promise not to be angry
with me then, nor scold me ?"

" Do I ever scold you, ma belle .?"

'^ Yes, indeed you do, you dear old boy,
and you know you were frightfully angry
with me about the Flora. Why did not
you stay to dinner that night, silly
boy ? But now to-day you really must
not be angry with me. There — do you
see that cheque ? I want you to get it
cashed for me."

" Not much trouble in that — not forged
I suppose, well, what is the next thing ?"

Flirts and Flirts. 261

''Oh, that is all." Kathleen had
seemed much embarrassed at first, but
she had produced the cheque iu such an
off-hand manner, and now seemed so in-
different about it, that Sandy could hardly
believe it was that she had been so anxious
about. Now, however, he took it up, and
looked at it. His eyes opened wide with
surprise at the first glance, then he gave
his cousin a grave searching look :

'' For Heaven's sake, Kathleen, what is
the meaning of that ?" said he throwing
down the cheque as he spoke.

"I don't know, Sandy, I am sure. I
don't understand anything now. All the
world seems at cross purposes. Lord
Faversham wanted to give it to me — I
can't think how he ever came to think I
was hard up — and he was going away,
and you know you yourself told me to be
kind to him, and why should I vex him
in this, when he was so bent upon it?"

She spoke in a confused pathetic tone,
with large tears forming slowly in each of

262 Flirts and Flirts.

the large blue eyes, and lier cheeks crimson
with blushes ; but Sandy did not seem to
heed her distress. He was sitting at the
other side of the round table, at which she
had been reading, his arms carelessly
resting upon it, now he leant far across
the table, trying to see into the face which
she averted from him.

'' Faversham gave it to you, Kathleen ?"
he said very quietly and distinctly, laying

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