Patrick MacGill.

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

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perately in love, and if you never meant
to care for him, why did you encourage

184 Flirts and Flirts.

him as you did ? letting him always be with
you too ? I do really think it very wrong,
and very unworthy of you, Kathleen ; but
perhaps you did care for him a little, you
would have cared for him really, if this
Count had not come here just now," and
Sybil looked up with a sharp interrogative
glance at her companion.

'' No, I should never have cared for
him," said Kathleen sternly, " men are so
different, they seem to care for lots of
people one after another, and sometimes
several at once. But I can't. Their
passions are stronger in every way than
ours, I suppose ; but they are stronger to
get over them also. Don't pity Lord
Faversham too much, you'll soon hear
of him just as much in love with somebody
else, and don't give me ujd altogether,
dear Sybil. You're the best friend I've got,
and I couldn't bear to lose you. Why
that flash actually played round your head,
it didn't bhnd you, did it dear? What
a pity Lord Faversham wasn't here, and

Flirts and Flirts, 185

he would certainly have lost his heart to
you, for it suited you down to the ground,
and then you would have been able to cqm-
fort him yourself. You ought always to
wear orange, I see ; but let's go to mother
now, she can't bear lightning, and she
won't like being left alone."

The thunder and lightning raged on ;
it tore one or two fine old trees to pieces,
and knocked down one or two cottages,
and there were stories in the papers, how
it had killed a pig here, and a cow there,
and blinded a labouring man somewhere
else, and among all the other misfortunes
it brought about, it very much disarranged
the yacht race. The Flora did not win
after all, and a great heavy schooner, that
no one knew much about, and that had
hardly managed to start till half an hour
after the others, walked off with the prize
in the end. The scene of confusion on
board the Flora herself was dreadful in-
deed, and it would require a far other pen
than mine to depict it. The champagne

186 Flirts and Flirts.

had proved all that any one had a right to
expect, whether considering the price
paid for it or not, and of the three gentle-
men on board, only one was not well
half-seas over before the lightning began,
and that one was Teddy Long, who had
made such a fuss about it, and a very
good story he was able to make about
the scene on board, and to relate to his
intimates next day. How Mile. Flore
had screamed, and sought safety in any-
one's arms, and how Simpson had clasped
Faversham to bis manly bosom by mistake
for her, and how he had sworn when he
had found out whom he had got hold of,
and how he had ordered every aperture
to be tightly closed up, and the lamps to
be lit, and how he had tried to obtain a
false courage by drinking, for

" He's the greatest coward, Simpson
is, you know, the greatest coward, and
the greatest ass, and how really the air
in the cabin had grown so bad one could
not breathe, and it gave me the most

Flirts and Flirts, 187

confounded headache," young Long
finished up his account with, *' really my
head's quite splitting with it to-day, quite
splitting," and if his hearers rather snig-
gered over this finale, why Teddy Long
did not care at all, not he. '^ I say, I
shall go and dine with Faversham before
the ball," he said, " he got beastly drunk
yesterday, so there's sure to be lots of soda
going, and T don't think I should mind
some myself. One wants something before
the work this evening. Why there are all
the girls of the season to be reviewed to-
night, except those Miss Propers, who
arn't allowed to go, because everyone's
there, and don't they wish they were?
Ta-ta see you all again to-night, if I'm
not crushed to death, before I come across
you, or struck all of a heap by the cruel
glance of some fair apparition. Take care
of yourselves, tell my friends I'm ahve if
you go to the Flower Show, and try to
console them. I'm not up to showing
myself there," and off swaggered Teddy

188 Flirts and Flirts.

Long, slapping his biglily varnislied little
boots with a diminutive cane, and picking
np an acquaintance, before he was well
gone, linked to whose arm he managed
to get down Union Street, and to the
Pier Hotel, where he wanted to look up

On the Pier there was a well known
string band playing, and people were as
usual during this week watching the
yachts, which were having a wonderfully
close race this year for the Town Cup, and
they were talking about the unfortunate
race of the day before, which had really
been no race at all, and the awful thunder
storm also afforded a great deal of con-
versation, and all the ladies were vying
wdth each other in their accounts of
what cowards they had been, for thunder
is one of those things, people seem really
proud of being frightened of. As to Lady
Killowen, she had been like Mr. Simpson
in trying to exclude every particle of
light, and ordering the lamps to be lit

Flirts and Flirts, 189

before tlieir time, though as to the brandy
and soda part of his programme, she did
not say anything about that

'' Were you very frightened too, Miss
Mordaunt ?" said Sandy to Sybil, who had
been allowed to come down the pier that
day with Lady Killowen and Kathleen.

"Well rather, I think," said Sybil
smiling. " Thunder always gives one a
frightened feeling, don't you think so ?"

" Yes, I suppose it does — gives one an
electric shock," said Sandy, making one
of his bad jokes ; then for about ten
minutes he talked to Sybil quite seriously,
and as usual came to the conclusion, that
she was as good as gold, but notwith-
standing at the end of the ten minutes, he
flitted off to Kathleen and Miss Zieri, who
were sitting together next to Mrs. Zieri,
Messrs. Simpson and De Yeux standing
up before them, while Count Manfrcdi
sat at Kathleen's side. There was a gleam
in the Count's eyes, as Sandy approached,
that, had he seen it, might well have

190 Flirts and Flirts,

friglitened him more than tliunder, but he
did not see it, and joined in the general
conversation quite unconsciously. It was
rather constrained by reason of neither
Madame Zieri's nor the Count's speaking
English, vowing indeed they did not even
understand it, though it would be hard to
believe the Count Manfredi in this. How-
ever, he always kept up the belief, often
finding it stand him in good stead, and
now sitting silent, except when Kathleen
addressed some little speech to him, he
was at full leisure to watch the others,
and see through all their little ways, and
form his conclusions about them, and as
he watched them he came to several con-
clusions ; first, that Miss Zieri neither
was nor intended to be engaged to Mr.
Simpson, that did not interest him much ;
secondly, that Mr. Simpson did intend to
marry her, and would consider himself
thrown over and badly treated, when he
found she would not have him, and be
proportionately piqued and angry, that

Flirts and Flirts. 191

interested him more ; thirdly, that Kath-
leen very much preferred Sandy to either
of the other two men ; though one at least
of them, was paying her very great atten-
tion ; and, lastly, that Sandy was so very
much in love with his beautiful cousin,
that he had very little thought to bestow
upon any other person or thing.

'' Yes, it is through her that I must
wound him," thought the Count, and then
he settled his little scheme. Sandy was
a hopeless lover, or as nearly so, as any
lover well could be, it would not be paining
him sufficiently for him, the Count, to win
her to himself, as he felt he could so easily
do, besides there was Mrs. Courteuey ; he
was not inclined to make believe to marry
just now. No he would make her choose
some man, who must be thoroughly dis-
tasteful to Sandy, with whom it must be
thoroughly impossible for him to thiuk of
her as happy. She must debase herself
in his eyes, as his father had led another
woman to debase herself in his, the Count's,

192 Flirts and Flirts.

eyes, and she must do so ; so as to root
out all liis faith in woman, as all the Count's
faith had been rooted out long ago.

That was his idea ; the dijSiculty would
be how to carry it out, but the Count did
not despond about that. He saw that he
had easy tools to work with, and the only
thing he now wanted was to find the man
sufficiently worthless to suit his ideas of
vengeance. He had not far to look for him,
if he had but known it ; but he had not yet
fixed on the man, when Kathleen joined her
mother and Sybil to go ofi* the Pier with

Colonel Gordon was talking to Sybil,
jestingly asking her in his kindly way, how
many hearts she meant to break at the ball
that night, and bidding her be merciful,
and Sybil smiled at his joke, but put it
away from herself as she said : "I wonder
if it will really be as crowded a ball as
people say, I thought there would be so
many people on the Pier, and now there
don't seem to be any. Are they spending

Flirts and Flirts. 193

all the afternoon at that stupid Flower
Show ? It's a great pity to have it to day,
when so much is going on."

" Well, it can't be helped very easily.
But there seem a pretty good number here
too. Who's missing ?"

" Oh, the Sitdowns, and the Standups,
and Captain Loiter, he's always here, and
Lord Faversham, where is he ?"

Then Colonel Gordon laughed : " Per-
haps he does not feel quite steady enough on
his legs yet. He was carried on shore,
they say, yesterday evening. Well, why
not?" as he saw the young ladies look
rather shocked. Kathleen had come up
by this time, and was listening now. '* I
should think it was rather jolly, and he'll be
well enough for the ball, I dare say."

Then Sybil and Kathleen followed Lady
Killowen. " How horrid !" said Sybil with
a sigh of disgust.

" I suppose all men do it," said Kathleen.
" It's no use being disgusted, but I'd rather
not hear of it," and she laughed. She


194 Flirts and Flirts,

can hardly be thouglit very vain, if she
thought that, perhaps, it was partly owing
to herself that Lord Faversham had been
carried on shore the evening before, and
this idea made her all the more lenient
in her judgment of him, and Sybil also
thought that it was partly owing to Kath-
leen, but if his love for her led to such
consequences, she no longer felt any pity
for him, and was readily convinced that
she should soon hear of him as desperately
in love with some one else. Yet after all,
it had very little to do with Kathleen, that
Lord Faversham had drunk rather too
freely of the Flora's spirituous liquors, nor
was it because of the evil results of his
excesses, that he did not show upon the
Pier ; bat, in truth, because his mother
had unexpectedly arrived to see him, as
she said. She had got Major De Lancey's
note that morning in her drawing-room in
Wilton Street, and barely swallowing a
morsel of breakfast, she had put on her
bonnet and shawl, and driven to the Vic-

Flirts and Flirts. 195

toria Station, bidding lier maid pack up
lier things as quickly as she could, and
follow her down to Ryde in the evening.
But she said nothing about Major De
Lancey's note to her son. She was so
much alarmed by his appearance and evi-
dent depression, that she determined to
take him away at once, but she hoped to
do so without alarming him about himself,
and the boy saw through her fears at once,
and as she said nothing about them to
him, thought they were greater than
they were, and that his case was hopeless,
and was almost glad that it was so. Poor
boy Earl !



The Regatta Ball at Eyde is generally
a very crowded one, and curiously enough
there is a more mixed company to be seen
at it than any other of the Ryde balls,
though the tickets admitting people have,
in this case, to be obtained through a
member of the R. Y. Y. Club, and can
not be simply bought at a shop, as is
sometimes the case. It is not a very
satisfactory ball either; those who care
only for dancing have very little room,
and those, who go to look at other people,
generally find it impossible to see just those
very people it would most amuse them
to watch. The ball in the season that

Flirts and Flirts, 197

Katlileen 0' Grady queened it at Eyde,
was like those of other years in many
respects. But those who hke Teddy Long
went to review the young ladies, were
pretty unanimous in their judgment.
'' Miss Zieri did very well on a race course,
but Miss 0' Grady beat her as hollow as
every one else at night," then they dis-
cussed more nicely the merits of all the
lesser stars. Mrs. Courteney looked grand
in a green satin, even more gored than
fashion demanded, and with a long train,
which in consequence clung about her feet
more than was quite graceful, and was
not convenient for dancing, so she sat
out a good deal in the wide dimly hghted
balcony with Major O'Connor. There
was nothing particular in her sitting in
the balcony that night, for every one sits
in the Club balcony at the Regatta ball,
and it is curtained in, and though some-
times the curtains are drawn up, it is
hardly much cooler than the ball-room
itself, and there was not much pleasure

198 Flirts and Flirts.

to Mrs. Courteney in sitting there with
Major O'Connor, for the Major was still
feeling he had gone too far, and was
desirous to draw back, and in that mood
he was not very agreeable ; few men are

Major O'Connor, it so happened was in
the army, but his real profession was that
of a lady killer, and as he had not cared
to throw away his hundred and one
chances of an heiress for the sake of Ada
Jerninghame ; so, he did not care to do
so now for the sake of Ada Courteney, but
he had a tendresse for her, which every
now and then he was led away into fancy-
ing a grande passion, and that made him
waste his time at present, and this evening
to very little purpose, for he was neither
agreeable to himself nor to her. Count
Manfredi did not guess that this red haired
Major was the rival he was so anxious
to discover ; but, all the same, from what
he saw of their manner to each other, he
thought it as well to leave the two alone

Flirts and Flirts. 199

together at first, lia^dng obtained a
promise of a dance far on in the evening,
when the room would be clearer. Mean-
while, he devoted himself to Kathleen.
He did not talk mnch to her, that was not
the Count's way ; but then, what he did
say had so much meaning in it, said as he
said it.

He did the daring thing of speak-
ing of Mrs. Courteney to her, and he
openly expressed a desire to win one of
the loving looks, which those large
dreamy eyes must, he felt sure, be able
to bestow, for all their so generally scorn-
ful expressions, and at the same time he
just touched upon her dress and paint in
a manner to give his hearer the idea that
he looked upon her as a person of another
sphere. The rich rosy blushes mantled
on Kathleen's cheek, as for a while she
fancied that the Count was a flirt indeed,
may be a heartless flirt, if that adjective
indeed adds auy force ; that he was a flirt
as regarded others, Mrs. Courteney for

200 Flirts and Flirts.

instance, but that for herself, he was
quite different.

Lord Faversham looked very white and
ill, standing silent in the door- way; but
when he came and asked for a dance, and
Kathleen told him, her card was already
fall, the colour came back into his cheeks
at once, and so violently, that she was
frightened. " Perhaps I can manage it,'*
said she hurriedly looking at her card.
"Yes fourte-en ; fourteen if you like. I
will arrange it with Sandy."

^' Thank you," said Lord Faversham.
" shall I write my name on your card ?
I have not got one myself^ It is the only
dance I shall dance to-night."

It was with tears in her eyes that Kath-
leen told Sandy she had given away his
dance ; he was not very pleased, but took
it quietly, when he heard she had had no
other for Lord Faversham, only making
rather a worse joke than usual on the
occasion. ^' I am dreading it so," said
Kathleen. "I don't know how I shaU

Flirts and Flirts. 201

get througli it. It will be a mercy wlien
it is over."

Tlien Sandy spoke in his quiet reliable
sort of way : '' I'll be looking after you,
and be kind to the poor fellow. He his
going away to-morrow."

That dance was very painful to Kath-
leen ; it was a waltz unfortunately, and
after once trying to get round the room,
and being a good deal knocked about in
the attempt, Lord Faversham got so
dreadfully out of breath, that Kathleen
could not, with any conscience, let him try
aofain, and so there was nothino- for it but
to talk : " I am going to leave Eyde to-
morrow," began Lord Faversham, '' my
mother has taken it into her head to think
me seedy, and wants me to try some
German Baths, and after that the grape
cure. It does not sound bad, does it?

" ISTo, I should think it would be very
nice ; but are you really going to-morrow ?
that is very sudden. Lady Faversham
goes too, I suppose ?"

202 Flirts and Flirts.

" Yes, and I don't know any better
nurse tlian my mother — if one were ill,"
lie said in his simple way.

"But I hope you are not really ill.
That concert — "

" Oh, it was not the concert. But we
all go off early, we Favershams; and
Johnny will manage the estate, much
better than I ever should." Kathleen
felt half choking, as she afterwards told
Sybil, and did not know what to say;
she had not dared to look at him yet,
neither had he once looked at her since
they began dancing. '' Won't you take
an ice or something ? it is cooler down-
stairs than here."

After he had brought her an ice, and
actually found her an arm-chair, generally
a diflScult matter at the Regatta ball.
Lord Faversham cleared his throat ner-
vously, then leaning on the back of her
chair, and looking steadily on the ground,
he began again : " Miss 0' Grady, I hope
you will forgive me for what I am going

Flirts mid Flirts. 203

to say. I know I liave no right to do so —
no right but one," he added in a lower
voice, " and that I do not wish to say
anything about ; it would only be painful
to — us both," he pronounced these last
words with difficulty, and then paused,
and Kathleen felt as if now it was coming.
She had thought to be spared this, but if
it was to be said, it would be a good thing
to get it over, but she was not prepared
for what was really coming : '' I know
people often say — I don't know it myself
— because — because I am only a boy, I
suppose ; but people often say that young
ladies have to marry people they don't
care about, because — because — " his voice
had become so husky, that he had to stop,
but he soon went on again, " and you
know I have lots of money, much more
than I know what to do with, and if you
would but — if you would but let me be
your banker," said he, now speaking very
fast and looking imploringly into her face,
'' you know it would make no difference

204 Flirts and Flirts.

to me, and there would always be enough
for Johnny, and you don't know what a
favour I should think it — what pleasure
it would give me."

" Oh, Lord Faversham, you are too
kind ; but indeed — indeed I'm not so hard
up as all that," said Kathleen, divided
between a desire to cry and to laugh.

'' I did not mean that. Of course I did
not mean to say you were — only you were
much richer before your cousin came into
the estate, and I should think it such an
honour. Do promise," he entreated, '' if
you don't want it now, perhaps you will
some other time. I shall think you are
offended with me if you will not, and you
are not offended with me, are you ?"

'' JSTo indeed, indeed I am not, and I
will promise if I ever am hard up. There
will that satisfy you ?" and Kathleen
actually managed to smile on him, as he
took away her ice plate.

" Can T get you any thing more ?"

" No, thanks," and she began rising as

Flirts and Flirts, 205

if to go up stairs ; but Lord Faversliam
did not ofier his arm. He had heard
people discussing Miss O'Grady's matri-
monial prospects, and they had all talked,
as if her choice would be limited by the
necessity of choosing a rich man, and he
could not bear to think that it should be
so, that his beautiful idol might one day
have to suffer the same pain as he himself
now suffered, and all for the want of
miserable money, of which he now seemed
to himself to have such a superfluity, for
what could money do for him now ? He
wished he could offer her his whole fortune,
unburdened by the necessity of accepting
himself at the same time, but even Lord
Faversham did not think this was possible,
so then this other expedient had come into
the poor simple boy's head, and he longed
to carry it out, as only an ill person can
long, so he remained standing beside
Kathleen, his eyes fixed on the ground,
racking his brain to find some new means
of persuasion.

206 Flirts and Flirts.

He was very flushed now, and his hair
looked very wild, and Kathleen wondered
if he was very ill indeed, and thought how
bad it must be for him to be there, and
knew that he had only come there to say
good bye to her, and with these thoughts
there were others mingled. The recollection
of her wretched debts came back to her.
What a real comfort it would be to have
them paid, would it not also be conferring a
pleasure upon him to let him pay them for
her ! Had it not been unkind in her as
well as hardly quite honest to pretend in-
dignation at the idea of being hard up,
when she really was so very much so, and
where the money was to come from, she
really did not know ; and so, though how
it came about she never could recollect
afterwards, when she went up stairs with
Lord Faversham again, it was already
settled that before he left Eyde the next
day he was to send her a cheque sufficient
to pay the bills that had become such a
vexation to her.

Flirts and Flirts. 207

' Before she got into the ball-room, Mr.
De Yeux claimed Iter for his dance, wliicli
had been going on some little time, and as
she was going away on his arm, Lord
Faversham held out his hand. " Good-
night, Miss O'Grady," was all he said,
and Kathleen could not speak at all, as he
took her hand and pressed it with a short
convulsive pressure. She had never
thought to be so overcome at parting from
the pretty boy Earl, but she got over her
feelings as soon as the nexfc dance with
the Count Manfredi came; whilst he, poor
boy, went sadly down stairs, only comfort-
ing himself by the idea, that '' we Faver-
shams all go off early." At the bottom of
the stairs he met Sandy, who findmg he
was going, volunteered to walk home with

'' Hang that concert !" he said, " I'll
never go to another as long as I live. But
those Baths will set you all right again
soon, old fellow. We'll be seeing you
back now before the winter, I dare say."

208 Flirts and Flirts.

" No, I shall never come to Ryde again,"
said Lord Faversliam decisively, "you'll
v^rite me a line tbough sometimes, won't
you, Beaumont !"

" Well, I am not much, of a hand at
a letter. But I will write to you, oh yes !
tell you all the news."

" Oh, if I were but you," said Lord
Faversham sadly, " but if it was giving
her up to you I should not much care — at
least I'd bear it like a man — but to think
that she may marry some villain, who will
break her heart. That is what I can't
bear, I can't."

''But it is not at all likely," said that
foolish Sandy, " did you never offer to her
yourself though, Faversham !"

''No, it would have been no use. She
does not care for me. I thouofht she misfht
once, I was a fool of course, but — that
night at the concert," and Lord Faversham
almost groaned. " I saw it all quite clearly.
I saw she would never care for men — ever,
never, and it broke my heart. Oh that

Flirts and Flirts. 209

dreadful song ! I shall never forget it. I
thought I should never get to the end of it.
Well it's the last song I shall ever sing, it
will soon be all over now, that's the only
comfort. But good-bye old fellow, your
partners will be blessing you for not going
to them."

" Good-bye ! but I shall see you again
to-morrow. What boat are you going
by? oh, the 10.30; well, I'll be down to
see you off — and try and take things
easily, Faversham. Depend upon it, that
is the only way. No one can ever have
what they really want, you know. It's
always the same story," and the voice of
the cheerful easy-going Sandy Beaumont

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