Patrick MacGill.

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

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an awful stress upon that one word
"gave;" then, as she made no answer,
he said after a few moments' pause : "It
was that cheque, I suppose then, he
asked me to bring to you, when I saw
him off that last morning on the pier ?"

She just nodded her head in assent,
then burst into tears : " Oh, Sandy, Sandy,
you must not be angry with me."

It had been weighing on her for a long
time, this miserable cheque, and often and
often had she wished that she had strength
of mind enough to throw it into the fire ;
but then there were those horrid bills —

Flirts and. Flirts. 263

and wliere to turn to for money to pay
them, she really did not know — if Lady
Killowen ever should hear of them — what
would happen then, Kathleen had never de-
cided ; but the one person she had all her
life been afraid of was her mother, and she
felt as if she would rather die than that
she should hear of her difficulties. Lady
Killowen had been particularly violent in
her denunciations of extravagance lately,
which made Kathleen suspect that she also
liad horrid debts, which were a trouble
to her, so it would be of the less use to
apply to her for assistance, and indeed to
do so would in any case have been im-
possible to Kathleen. People must be
beginning to know, too, that they were
living beyond their means, or they would
not be so pressing in their demands, and
so it had come about that the cheque
had never been put into the fire, but had
been kept to meet these demands ; only
how to make it available? that was the
great difficulty. If she gave it to a servant

264 Flirts and Flirts,

to cash, slie knew the news of it must
infallibly come to lier mother; as to
presenting it herself at the bank, or giving
it herself to some shop-keeper, that she
could not do.

A hundred times did she blame Lord
Faversham for not sending the money to
her in gold or notes ; true, he had sent
double the sum she had at last mentioned
to him, and happily he had not put her
name upon the cheque, but made it payable
to some man or other (she did not know
the name) or bearer, but still he had been
very inconsiderate, very stupid in sending
a cheque at all. Once or twice Kathleen
had thought of applying to Sybil; but
besides her consciousness that Sybil would
have sooner torn up the cheque before her
face, than helped her to dispose of it,
unless Kathleen invented some story to
account for her possession of it ; besides
this, she knew that Sybil would be equally
helpless as herself as to getting it cashed ;
»so then the idea of Sandy occurred to her.

Flirts and Flirts. 265

He could lielp her, and surely lie would ;
his beautiful cousin knew well enough that
he was in love with her, and love is always
said to be blind ; he would see no harm in
her accepting the cheque, not if she put
the whole matter before him, as she
thought she so well knew how to do ;
but when Sandy said to her in that awful
tone : " Faversham gave it to you, Kath-
leen ?" she lost all recollection of how she
had meant to explain the whole thing to
him, aud it was worse still, when he went
on so quietly to ask if he had been the
bearer of that cheque.

Bitterly did she repent ever having
allowed it to be sent, bitterly did she re-
pent ever having told him of it ; but now
she had done so, and she must put the
best face on it that she could, only just at
this moment she felt as if she could put
no face on it at all, so like many another
woman before her, she took refuge in

But Sandy took no notice of her tears :

266 Flirts and Flirts.

" For God's sake, Kathleen, what is the
meaning of this cheque ? What have you
been doing ?"

''Doing?" and raising her head, she
brushed away the hot tears, and looked
him indignantly in the face; then she
poured out her version of the story to him,
telling it all very much as it really had
happened, only giving it a slight colouring
by her manner of telling it, ending with,
" and then when he was just going away
— saying goodbye to me for ever — I had
not the heart to refuse him this one —
favour as he called it."

" But when you got the cheque, you
might have sent it back to him."

" I might have, I daresay. I might
now. But I tell you, Sandy, I owe as
much as this, quite as much," she might,
and with truth, have said more, '' and now
that I have accepted this cheque, I don't
see that it would do any good to send it
back, so I might as well use it, and I
thought, Sandy, you would not mind

Flirts and Flirts, 2G7

takiDOf this little trouble for me. But it
seems I was mistaken."

'' I should think nothinof of doins: much
more for you — anything that I could, you
know that, Kathleen; but if I d*" aot cash
it "

" You mean that you won't !" and
Kathleen rose indignantly from her seat.
*' Oh, you men ! you are all just alike,
you would die for our sakes, if it would
give us the slightest pleasure, and then
if we do but ask the commonest
thing "

'* It is no common thino- you have asked
of me. Many men would not take it as
quietly as I have done — that you should
receive such a large amount of money
from one who is known to have been your
lover "

" Sandy !" and Kathleen looked down
upon him, as she stood in front of him,
her cheeks ablaze with indignation, her
eyes dilated and gleaming with a red
gleam for all their blueness. "Do you

268 Flirts and Flirts.

dare — tliere — take it, and tell Lord Faver-
sham what I have done with it — and
why," she added, with a low mocking
laugh, so unlike her usual merry ringing
peal, that it made Sandy shudder. Then
she swept from the room, looking more
beautiful than ever in the glory of her
offended dignity. " I will never speak to
you again," she said, as she swept out at
the door.

She had torn the cheque into little bits
before she tossed it to him, and now he
sat with the fragments in his hands gazing
blankly after her. He had hardly known
what he was saying before his cousin had
struck him dumb with her indignation, now
he loved her for her anger with him.
He thought her ten times better and nobler
than before, how grand she had been in her
anger ; she had not paused for a moment,
but gone straight from the room when he
insulted her. " Good God ! to think that
he should have insulted her so ! he, Sandy
Beaumont, her cousin, of all men !" and

Flirts and Flirts. 269

liow beautiful she liad looked as she had
swept out of the room. Then he looked at
the torn cheque, and for a moment he
almost wished it were whole again ; but no,
he was glad it was torn. It was too
degrading to think of Lord Faversham
giving his cousin money. Poor fellow ! he
meant it well, no doubt, and Sandy
thought he knew how it had all come

He remembered one day De Veux had
been going on talking in his foolish fashion,
saying how Miss 0' Grady must some day
marry for money, as De Yeux was fond of
saying, and talking as to the desirability
of his throwing over Helen, and taking
his chance. How Sandy hated the fellow !
and he rembered how Faversham had said
in his naif way, just as if such an idea had
never occurred to him before : " That it
must be an awfully unpleasant thing to
marry anyone one did not really care
about." Then Sandy looked again at the
torn cheque, and wondered how his cousin

270 Flirts and Flirts.

had degraded herself so far as to accept ot
it, for, that it was degradation, he could
not doubt, and she must have felt it so,
or she would not have torn the cheque,
and thrown it from her. " She must have
been hard pressed," he thought, '' and now
what will she do ? oh, if I were but rich !"
That wearisome, never ending refrain ! to
how many different tunes is it sung, I
wonder, between the rising and the setting
of the sun.

He felt as though he were bound to
replace that cheque to her, it was because
of him that she had torn it, and she must
have stood in great need of it, before she
would have deigned to accept of it. But
how — how — that was the difficulty. He
could not give it to her, never in the whole
course of his life was he likely to be able
to give it to her. But he might lend it to
her for some indefinite time, and she might
return it to him, when she were married to
some rich man or other. He had ac-
customed himself to the idea by this time ;

Flirts and Flirts, 271

he supposed it must happen sooner or
later that she should marrj some rich man,
but his cousin must not be hurried into a
marriage that was distasteful to her,
through the want of money to satisfy her
creditors. A girl could not raise money as
a man could ; he would get it for her
somehow, and make her understand that
there was no hurry about repaying him.
By selling his commission he might have
made it a gift to her, but Sandy did not
even think of this.

His profession was the one thing that
was left him, his love was to be taken from
him, he had resigned himself to that idea,
and now the most brilliant prospect his
imagination painted for him, was a soldier's
death in some far distant land. He pic-
tured to himself the tears she would shed,
and could almost hear the tones in which
she would praise him. In her words he
would indeed shine forth a real hero.
Poor Sandy ! he knew that he must be
dead first to bring all this about, but yet

272 Flirts and Flirts.

it was something sweet to think of, that
all this might jet come to pass. It was
the only sweet thing he yet had to look for-
ward tOj and nothing of all this could come
to pass but through his profession, so it
all drew him the closer to it, and made
his soldier's life the dearer to him. He
never thought now of giving that up, and
he hardly felt as if he risked his commis-
sion by borrowing money he knew he could
never pay himself but through the sale of
it ; for he had accepted it as so certain a
fact that Kathleen would marry some rich
man, and then of course she would repay
him. Only now just for her present neces-
sities he felt himself bound to replace that
cheque to her.

Then Sandy put the torn fragments in
his pocket, they were not to be left about
for any idle eye to see. Besides, he meant
to enclose them to Lord Faversham, telnng
him, coldly, though as little unkindly as he
could, that his cousin stood in no need of
any young Earl's pecuniary assistance.

Flirts and Flirts, 273

Kathleen had bidden him write to Lord
Faversham, and be meant to do so, of
what use had the destruction of the cheque
been if he were never to hear of it, but
Sandy did not mean to hurt the poor boy's
feehngs unnecessarily.

Somehow, the report had reached Ryde
that he was very ill, that the Baths had had
no effect, and but little was expected of
the grape cure, and that if he were equal
to the journey, he was to spend the follow-
ing winter in Madeira, to see if that soft
balmy air could restore him to health
again. If he were equal to the journey — -
already it had come to that with this Lord
Faversham, and " Aime moi Men, aimemoi
hien,^^ rang in the ears of many of those
who heard this report, as if it were the
boy Earl's funeral knell. Sandy would
write very kindly to him, but tell him he
must, that Kathleen did not require the
money, and then he would raise it for her
somehow. Would she accept it of him ?
she had quarrelled with him now, and gone

VOL. 1. T

274 Flirts and Flirts.

away from him in anger, but she would
forgive him soon ; of that Sandy had Httle
doubt. She would soon feel that he had
not meant to provoke her that it was but
by reason of his love for her that he had
done so, and when she felt this, she would
be too generous not to own it. Then
when they were friends again, it would not
be diflQcult to persuade her to accept the
money ; she must have been hard pressed
to accept it from Lord Faversham, she
could hardly hesitate now to take it from
her cousin as a loan, and its being such
would remove any scruples she might
otherwise have had on the score of his

So Sandy took up his hat and went out
quietly that Lady Killowen might not
hear him, for he was in no mood for a
bantering talk with his aunt. He would
come back when he had written to Lord
Faversham, and raised the money for
Kathleen. But this last he would do
first; it was an empty quibble, he knew.

Flirts and Flirts, 275

and he was astonished at himself for
minding about it, but he could not bring
himself to write that his cousin had no
need of the money, until he had got it for
her. Only when he had got it, did he feel
as if he could write this without any
scruples, and yet he knew this was but a
quibble, and was astonished at himself for
caring about it. But he did care about
it, and was determined to get the money
first, so now he had to consider how this
was to be done. No one has far to go in
these days to look for a money-lender, but
it was not any money-lender that would
suit Sandy just then.

He had borrowed money at high in-
terest before now, and he knew what it
was to do so. True, the last Derby had
set him right, but it was hardly likely the
next year's Derby would have an equally
beneficial effect, and besides after that
last Derby, in the first glow of relief at
shaking off the burden of his debts, he had
made a sort of vow as a thanksgiving

T 2

276 Flirts and Flirts.

offering, that for the future he would
abstain from all gambling, not from all
playing at games of chance for money, but
from all playing for such stakes as he had
not got it in his power to lose. It would
not do after that to trust to the next year's
Derby to set him right again ; so it was
just in the very nick of time when he
came across Major De Lancey. This
officer was a sort of Nestor in the regi-
ment, not through his superior age, but
through his superior wisdom, and many a
young subaltern had he helped through a
serious difficulty, and saved his commission
for before now ; so that directly he saw
him, it seemed to Sandy the most natural
thing in the world to go up to him, and
tell him he was in a difficulty, and wanted
to ask his advice.

" Sorry for it," said Major De Lancey.
" Come up to my room after mess, and
I'll see if I can help you. Just now I'm
in a hurry to get to a kettle-drum at Lady
Clanmore's, that I've somehow let myself

Flirts and Flirts . 277

in for. But I'll be at your service tins

" Well, what is it, Beaumont ?" said
Major De Lancey that evening, when
Sandy had come up to his room, and he
had provided him with a cigar, and made
him generally comfortable. " What scrape
are you in now ?"

" Not in any just now, thank you,
Major. But I want some money."

" So I supposed. You've been playing
again," said Major De Lancey, with a look
of displeasure, for on the occasion of that
last Derby's success, he had given Sandy
Beaumont some good advice, which the
latter had promised to follow.

'' T gave you my word that I would not,"
said Sandy, puffing away at his cigar.

*' True. I beg your pardon, but for
what then do you want money ?"

" That is my secret," said Sandy.
'' But it is for nothing bad, nor is it for
myself that I want it, and I must get it.
I think you would say so yourself, if you

278 Flirts and Flirts.

knew the whole story ; only that I cannot
tell you."

" Neither do 1 care to hear it. If you
tell me it is for nothing bad, and that you
are bound to get it, I would as soon take
your opinion as my own. How much is
it ?" Then when Sandy had told how
much he wanted, Major De Lancey thought
for a moment. *' When will you ever be
able to repay it, Beaumont ?"

" I don't know when, but I know I shall
be able to some day."

" Well, as it happens, I can let you
have it myself. Pay me when it is con-
venient to you. Only, Beaumont, you
have promised me one thing, now promise
me another ; if you want any more money,
come to me for it, do not go to a money-
lender. I might not be able to lend it to
you myself again, but promise me you
will come to me first."

" I promise," said Sandy, shaking
the other by the hand, as he spoke,
*'and thank you a thousand times.

Flirts and Flirts. 279

You are the very best fellow I ever came

"Not at all," said the other. "I
should not lend you the money, but that
I know I shall see it back again. I never
wish for a better security than your

Sandy's colour rose high ; there were
not many subalterns to whom Major De
Lancey would have spoken in such terms.
" You will certainly see it back again, but
it may be some time first, so about the
interest "

" I have lent money before now, and I
have never received any interest for it.
It is too late for me to enter upon the
career of an usurer now," said Major De

" I beg your pardon, sir ; but indeed
you are too kind. You are the best friend
I ever had, and I only hope we may go
under fire together some day."

The elder ofiicer smiled. " What,
wishing for foreign service ! you used

280 Flirts and Flirts.

to threaten to excliange if we were
ordered abroad."

" I used to," said Sandy, '' but I am
tired of England now," and lie looked
steadily into the other's face, as if daring
him to see more in this change of feeling
than the simple reason he gave for it.
But Major De Lancey seemed to accept
this explanation :

'' Well, if we do go under fire again, I
hope it may be side by side. But I know
more of it than you do, and I should be
just as glad if the 168th had no more fight-
ing to do. I am sorry to turn you out,
Beaumont, but I have some letters I must
write to-night, and it is getting late."

When Sandy had left him, and as Major
De Lancey settled down to his letters, he
could not help a slight wonder as to what
the other wanted this money for.

'' Not for himself," he said, " and yet
he could hardly want it to lend to some
friend, he spoke so confidently of its being
returned; besides, why should not his

Flirts and Flirts. 281

friend come to me himself ? Depend
upon it there's a woman in the case,"
said he, as men so often do, when there is
anything they cannot otherwise account
for. " I wonder, is it anything to do with
Lady Killowen? she was said to be left
badly off, and she is an extravagant woman,
I should say, if there ever was one. That
wish for active service too ! There must
be something wrong between him and his
cousin. I've noticed he has been looking
rather down in the mouth lately. Well if
Miss 0' Grady prefers that Italian Count
to young Beaumont, it only shows she is
not worthy of him, that is all. Indeed,
there are not many girls that are, he is the
finest young fellow we have out and out,
and as to her she is a flirt of the first
water. I wonder he does not see it him-

Then Major De Lancey bui^ied himself
in his letters.



It was a glorious sunny Saturday after-
noon, and Ryde Pier was crowded, for not
only was all tlie Ryde world there, but half
Portsmouth as well. Already there was
but little room for peacocking, and not a
seat to be had anywhere, and still there
was a crowd on the deck of the Portsmouth
boat, in which Sandy Beaumont came
across with Major De Lancey and a few
others of the 188th.

. It was a motley scene which presented it-
self to them on landing ; in the foreground
were the porters struggling backwards and
forwards beneath heavy boxes through the
motley crowd, that always grows slightly

Flirts and Flirts. 283

thicker round a newly arrived steamer ;
tlien there were the scared looking people
in travelling dress, who were making their
way towards the back of the island, and
who, between the porters and their boxes,
and the gay loungers with their trailing
skirts, and the band doing full justice to
a selection from Era Diavolo on one side
of them, and the steamer blowing off
steam behind them, — -oh ! those hateful
steamers ! — seemed hardly to know which
way to turn ; then there were all the vain
and obstinate peacocks, who would try to
peacock it, though they must have seen
that there was clearly no room for any-
thing of the kind, and behind them, and
all round them were those sensible and
fortunate peacocks, who had secured seats
for themselves on the long narrow
benches, and were there enjoying the
pleasures of far niente, or carrying on the
one business of their butterfly lives, all as
it might happen.

Major De Lancey cleared himself from

284 Flirts and Flirts.

the steamer throng, and then standing
still, reviewed the scene mth the air of a
connoisseur, and Sandy stood behind him
and did not review the scene at all, but
only looked out for Kathleen. There were
the Miss Yivyens of course, struggling up
and down ; Colonel Beauchamp in devoted
attendance upon the eldest, while Grace
was smihng destruction upon a tall man
from Alder shot, with face cleanly shorn in
the fashion of to-day, but for a long yellow
moustache with a languid droop in it.
The poor swell must have been annihilated
at once, but that a Charybdis saved him
from the Scylla of Grace Yivyen's smiles ;
they could but do half their work, whilst
he had to labour after her, growing hot
and red in the difficulties of pilotage, as he
felt himself always within less than an inch
of treading upon his fair charmer's train,
or, yet more fatal, being precipitated upon
her, tripped up by that of some other
heedless fair one.

There too among the walking ladies is

.Flirts and Flirts. 285

Miss Smitli ; tliat yellow cloud, she calls
lier hair, has not quite fluttered away yet.
Is it anxiety, lest it should do so, that
paints her cheek that brilliant pink ? rouge !
tight lacing ! Nay, nay, how ill-natured
the world is ; both would not be needed to
account for it, and who can tell about the
lacing without seeing the waist, or discern
rouge through a veil so artfully spotted ?
That was a laugh ; no mistake about that ;
again too ! the true professional ring in it.
No wonder ; those two sisters are actresses.
How daintily they've mounted up their
yellow hair behind those almost invisible
bonnets, and how jauntily the taller one
leans against the railing, as four or five
of the Portsmouth garrison chaff, or are
chaffed by her. You should see her act the
part of a dashing young ofl&cer, as she did
only last night at the tiny E-yde theatre ;
she swaggers about then with a more
thoroughly military air than anyone of
those men now paying their court to her,
and the way she twirls her moustache ! it

286 Flirts and Flirts.

is downright murder. That pale little
thing with the dovelike air and slightly
vacant expression is her sister; she is
dressed with sweet simplicity all in white,
but she is not the bride of that tall dashing
black-whiskered man, on whose arm she
is always leaning so confidingly. He is in
some swell cavalry regiment, and is just
at present on leave, and he don't exactly
tliink himself suited for matrimony, but all
the same a pretty actress is a very pleasant

Enough though of this sort of thing.
Major De Lancey took it all in much more
quickly than I have described it, and he
saw a lot more things besides. He saw
Mrs. Courteney doing penance in a shabby
black silk dress by the side of her husband,
and Major O'Connor glancing unutterable
things from a convenient resting place on
the railing, and Miss Zieri on those ter-
rible little heels looking as lively as ever
by the side of her mother, whilst two burly
looking yachting men cleared a passage for

Flirts and Flirts, 287

them, and a tall slight young man with a
foreign air walking close behind the two
ladies, made himself yet more useful by
amusing them ; all thanks to the " short-
and-sweets" they wore, or he would have
had to keep his distance. He was to take
Holy Orders shortly, and intended having
the last dance of his life next Thursday at
Lady Long's, as he told the two ladies, at
the same time describing to them all the
other deprivations he would be called upon
to undergo, when he became one of the
priesthood. Such a waltzer, and such a
handsome young man, it was sad to think
he should be so cut short in his career, and
so the ladies said, and he tried to console
them by promising to come down to Ryde
to preach his very first sermon.

" But we go to Homburg next week,"
said Miss Zieri, and in the delights of this
idea for the moment forgot the sacrifice
this charming young man was about to
make of himself.

Major De Lancey took due note of all

288 Flirts and. Flirts.

this, and got a little nod from Miss Zieri
as slie passed; but Sandy saw nothing,
for he liad caught a glimpse of a black

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